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Just Eat Gilligan

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"Oh, Gilligan screwed it up! He always screws it up! Why don't they just kill him?"
Red Forman, That '70s Show, "Radio Daze"

Even a useless character can have his place in a show: as Comic Relief, a Kid-Appeal Character, or even a Hate Sink. But sometimes one person is so repeatedly and hopelessly incompetent that even the audience takes notice. If one character (or some other factor) is the main reason for every failure, why does the rest of the cast not account for that? Why do the rest of the castaways keep Gilligan around? Why don't they just shoot him? (or lock him in his room, have a volunteer take him somewhere out of the way, or send him on a Snipe Hunt?)


There may or may not be an in-universe explanation for why they don't do it, but the real answer is always some shade of "because if they did, there wouldn't be a series." Status Quo Is God, after all. Note that there's no guarantee that doing things the smart way would result in the plot's resolution, but you'd think the characters would at least try.

Take note of the fact that you can't both be able to write for major network television and not see this glaringly obvious stuff yourself. Overlooking it is either a wink to the audience about this being, you know, fiction and stuff, or a comment on the reasoning abilities of the characters. We, for example, have no problem believing the other castaways on Gilligan's Island would all miss an easy observation, for one reason or another.

The trope name comes from a question raised by Tom Servo during the riffing in an early Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode (SST Death Flight). Another question raised was "Why didn't they just fix the two-foot hole in the boat?"


This can be seen as a Sub-Trope of Idiot Ball as it's essentially an Idiot Ball so grand in scale that it doesn't just move the plot along—it keeps it alive. And when numerous characters in the cast fail to pick up on this Elephant in the Room, you've got yourself an Idiot Plot.

Not to be confused with Just Eat Him. When a villain falls prey to this trope, it is often Never Recycle Your Schemes, Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?, or Cut Lex Luthor a Check. See also The Millstone, when one character is the cause of this situation, "Fawlty Towers" Plot, when the source is a lie, Story-Breaker Power, when a character's special abilities should be able to solve the conflict, and Duels Decide Everything, when a fictional universe requires someone to win a sport against someone, even when there's no reason why they have to play, in order to do something of substance. If you were expecting this trope to be literal, i.e., if they did eat Gilligan, that would be an example of there being No Party Like a Donner Party. Contrast with For Want of a Nail, Who Will Bell the Cat? See also "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot, when characters acknowledge this mistake after the fact. For the many, many instances (In-Universe and out) where people argue "Just Kill The Joker!!!", please head to Joker Immunity.


Also known as "Idiot Premise", "Why Don't They Just Kill Him?", "You Could Have Avoided This", "Don't Recruit Teenagers with Attitude", "Just Fix the Hole in the Boat", "Just Use the Eagles", "Just Shoot the Pigeon", "Just Kill The Beast Generals", "Just Ground Megan", "Just Move Out of Hawkins", "Just Fortify the Abbey", "Just Kill Zordrak", "Just Decommission Numbuh 13", "Just Fire Mordecai and Rigby", "Just Spank Dennis", "Just Depower Haruhi", "Just Vaporize Dee-Dee", "Just Murder Happosai", "Just Eat the MacGuffin", "Just Shoot the Karma Houdini", "Just Kill the Idiot Houdini", or "Just Kill the Big Bad".


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  • There was a series of Eggo Waffles commercials where a Bumbling Dad was constantly trying to steal the eponymous waffles from his daughter while she wasn't looking with his attempts always ending in Amusing Injuries. Honestly, why doesn't he just get his own Eggos out of the freezer, or better yet, buy himself some Eggo Waffles from the store?
  • Also, the kids from the Lucky Charms commercials; why don't they just buy their own, instead of chasing Lucky for them all the time? One explanation is that since they're kids, they can't buy their own things.
  • In the Allegedly Free Game for iOS and Android, State of Survival, the ads for the game seem to present the zombies as fairly incompetent - the fast type, yet Made of Plasticine - and docile until someone gets their attention through excessive noise. The family in the ads own a pit bull who always seems to ruin their day, because the dog just won't shut up. Cue the dog drawing the attention of the zombies (represented by stolen Left 4 Dead and 7 Days to Die assets) and forcing the family to leave safety for a woefully unfortified area. Since this seems to happen so often, why don't the family either train their animal to have restraint, or just get rid of it altogether and look for a more reliable companion, or (more drastically) just leave it there and let the zombies take care of the animal, if not shoot the damn thing themselves? The animal never seems to offer any assistance to the family, since the inexplicably instantly-constructed gun towers (that you can't have unless you either wait an inordinate amount of time or cough up the cash) take care of the zombies anyway. To sum it up, this animal is a liability which puts its owners at risk constantly and never provides any real benefit in return, so getting rid of it would surely make their lives better.
  • The Trix Rabbit commercials. Why can't the rabbit buy some Trix instead of stealing from a bunch of random kids?
    • One advert had him taking the long-suggested "buy your own cereal" option, only for the kids to steal it from him.
    • The rabbit's guest appearance in a Got Milk? commercial had him take the "buy your own" option as well, only for him to run out of milk. Though nothing's stopping him from just putting the costume back on and going out to buy milk.
  • Invoked in a commercial for Three Musketeers bars. One of the Musketeers wonders why the bandit that was chasing them didn't just go out and buy one of their candy bars.
  • For many years, the Maytag Repairman has had to find all sorts of ways to keep busy because Maytag appliances never need his services. Why doesn't he just quit his job and find another instead of being a non-working repairman for a washing machine brand that's Made of Indestructium? For that matter, why does Maytag keep him employed if there's no need for him?

    Anime and Manga 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • The anime features several occasions where a bad guy could achieve his goal without an obligatory Duel, but nevertheless does one for some unknown reason. Repeatedly lampshaded in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, including Yami Yugi Stating the Simple Solution more than once. This is lampshaded hardest in the first season when Yami and Yugi find out that the reason Big Bad Pegasus threw the whole tournament in the first place was because he wanted the Millennium Puzzle that Yugi has. Yami Yugi then openly wonders why Pegasus didn't just ask for it.
      Yami Yugi: I mean, do you have any idea how much time and money you've wasted with this whole facade? People have died because you wanted a necklace! I killed a gay clown, for Ra's sake!
    • And again in the second season...
      Rare Hunter: We are here to take your rarest card.
      Joey: You mean you're gonna kick the crap out of me and steal it?
      Rare Hunter: No. First we will challenge you to a children's card game. Then we will kick the crap out of you and steal it.
      Joey: ... wouldn't it be much easier just to skip the first step?
      Rare Hunter: Yes. Yes, it would. (proceeds with card game)
    • And in one of Marik's Evil Council meetings:
      Marik: We are going to challenge him to a card game! But this will be no ordinary card game. This one will take place... On a boat!
      Bakura: Why a boat?
      Marik: Because, uhm, when he loses the card game, we'll, uh, throw him over the edge. Into the sea. His hair will be soaked, it'll take him hours to dry it!
      Bakura: Why do we even need to play a card game? Why can't we just push him off the boat?
      (long pause)
      Marik: No! The card game is integral to the plot! The EVIL plot! Of which I am the evil mastermind!
    • And from the same Council Meeting:
      Marik: For the last time, we're not killing him! Even if we did, those f*cktards would just censor it!
    • Sometimes it follows a reasonable logic where Yugi's puzzle will only give up its true powers if someone wins it in a competition which is why we get situations like when Bandit Keith will actually steal the puzzle and THEN stop to duel Yugi anyway. The original manga's version of the Dungeon Dice Monsters arc seems to confirm that you can't just take the puzzle and then expect to be able to use it; Ryuji's father tries to reassemble the puzzle after breaking it, and the puzzle itself starts showing him illusions that cause him to Freak Out and set the building on fire. Of course, this doesn't apply to all the non-Yugi duels that go through the card game for no reason, such as the above Joey quote which really is as nonsensical in the anime as it sounds abridged.
    • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX manga, Misawa admits that he could have just asked Judai for Asuka's phone number instead of dueling with him, but that his pride would not allow him to do so, and that he wanted to duel Judai.
    • But it's in the Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's series where they really went too far with it. The police have this device that forces a duel between themselves and the vehicle they're pursuing, which can disable the other vehicle... but only if they defeat the other driver in a children's card game. Bonus points because if they lose that children's card game THEIR vehicle gets disabled. You really have to wonder how someone got away with a pitch for standard-issue police gear that has a built-in function to let criminals get away.
    • Even more painful is that duels of the Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V series, duels have Solid Vision to make the cards real, and it becomes portable in season 2. However, it's only used once by the main characters in a non-duel situation, to break out of prison, and even that ended with them dueling again. This power could have easily united them when they were separated, or busted their friends when they become slaves later on. Likewise, Security also has access to Solid Vision, but has only been shown using it to stop duelists from simply running away from duels. Averted with Jean-Michel Roget, though: he has Security hold the city council hostage with Solid Vision monsters.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • When Ash competes in a Pokémon League tournament his team usually only consists of the Pokémon he caught in that particular region. He would have a far higher chance of winning if he had Professor Oak switch in a team made up of the strongest Pokémon that he's acquired from the various regions he's visited. In the Sinnoh league, however, he actually uses Pokemon from the previous regions he visited. He reaches semifinals, the furthest he ever got to (until the Kalos league) although he's defeated in the semifinals by a trainer with multiple Olympus Mons. Eventually, he finally wins a League in Alola.
    • Team Rocket is best known for trying to steal Pikachu, but they just as often try to steal Pokémon from other people or places. If they simply waited for Ash and his friends to leave whoever they wanted to rob they could do so unhindered. Furthermore, Pokémon they want to steal are often wild or unowned, meaning that instead of using complicated traps and plans to steal them they could simply capture them in Poké Balls and Ash and his friends wouldn't be able to do anything about it. The show even enjoys poking fun of this. Most of Jessie and James' legitimate captures are hilariously effortless. It is also noted that after the events of Sea Temple in Unova, Giovanni himself wanted Pikachu specifically after witnessing its power firsthand and set him as the Jessie and James' primary target, explaining why they couldn't just snatch one from the wild.
  • In Patlabor, SV2 Division 2 is often derided for the massive collateral damage they cause while fighting crime...and 90% it is caused by Ohta. Now, his gung-ho, gun-loving attitude is supposed to be Played for Laughs, and he is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, really, but just the same, getting rid of him would've saved SV2 of manu troubles. Note that in the manga version, Ohta is shown to be less incompetent than his anime counterparts. Also note that one of the later TV shows, points out that Ohta is very skilled, "He's never hit a cockpit," Gotoh remarks. Besides, the only other suitable pilots were on command track/or slated to go back to the US in a year. This is reinforced in the second movie, where he cooly demonstrates that he's capable of aiming from the hip with their Humongous Mecha and nailing a moving target. The recruits he was drilling at the time couldn't fathom the purpose of the exercise but were impressed nonetheless.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Homura's conflicts with Mami and Sayaka could theoretically be avoided if Homura stopped being so antisocial and cryptic, and just flat-out told everyone that magical girls turn into the witches they fight, and that Kyubey is deliberately misleading girls into making contracts in order to take advantage of the energy that is released during the girls' aforementioned witch transformations. However, it's eventually subverted. In several previous timelines, Homura did explain everything to the rest of the cast, and they either didn't believe her until it was too late or they snapped and tried to either commit suicide or murder the other magical girls to stop them from eventually becoming witches. After seeing this happen so many times, Homura eventually just gave up on trying to explain things.
  • In Inuyasha, the heroine has the ability to travel back and forth in time to Ancient Japan. Presumably, she and her friends who remain in the past after the defeat of Naraku could arrange to preserve the information on how it was done in such a way that Kagome could easily discover it in the present, take the information back to the past where the as-yet-undefeated Naraku is still wreaking havoc and use it to defeat him. Of course, trying to explain the logistics of such a paradox-based plan would most likely make all of the characters heads' explode, which would itself end the series right there. But of course, that depends on the exact logistics of the time travel, and, judging from the amount of present-day school she misses, the amount of time she can go back and forth is fixed.
  • Blue Seed has this as its central concept. If they had just killed Momiji (normally, that is), the monsters would all be gone and peace would be restored. However, the basis of the series is to find a way to get rid of the monsters without killing her. It's directly discussed at one point in the series that earlier Kushinadas had been sacrificed during the Rite of Matsuri throughout history and the effects of their sacrifices in order to put down the Aragami were only temporary. The characters in the series recognize this and actively try to find a long-term solution.
  • Code Geass would have ended much sooner in Lelouch's favor had he abandoned his favoritism and made a much earlier attempt to kill his best friend turned rival Suzaku, or geassed Villetta into forgetting everything that happened during their first encounter. Even sooner if he'd simply made some "Follow all of my orders" commands, which he finally begins throwing around near the end of the second season. There are some (admittedly fairly flimsy) reasons for not doing these things: Lelouch's personal brand of selfishness makes him willing to do anything for the people he cares about at the expense of everyone else (he started his entire war for the sake of his little sister), so it is a recognizable character flaw for him to hold back on Suzaku. He also dislikes taking away people's freedom (it's one of the reasons he hates Brittannia), so he only geasses innocent people temporarily, and his finally being willing to go that extra mile is a sign of his general breakdown. Yes, there is a lot of ambiguity and hypocrisy in his personal code of ethics (which he's well aware of), but he does actually have a reason for not solving his problems this way. His failure to deal with Viletta properly (either by geass or by execution) is certainly a stupid oversight, but could be excused by the stress of his first battle and newly-found powers causing a stupid moment. Partially justified (at least for Viletta) in that Lelouch did not know the limits of his Geass when he used it on her. He only learned his one-use limit during a subsequent episode in which he attempted to geass Kallen twice in a row.
  • Inverted in Soul Hunter. Taikobo decides the best course of action in one of the first chapters is to take the fight directly to Dakki. Just find a way into the palace, catch her when her guard is down, and get the happy ending. The problem is that Dakki is savvy and also a manipulative bitch. She knows Taikobo's every move before he makes it and nearly kills him in a pit of snakes. Lampshaded early in a wonderful fourth-wall breaking moment when Taikoubou asks his master Genshi Tenson why doesn't he go and fight Dakki.
    Taikoubou: "If you take care of things, everything will go just fine!"
    Genshi Tenson: "Ugh, if I did as you say, this manga would end too soon!"
  • Ranma ½:
    • Not one single character who has gained a curse at the Jusenkyō springs has thought to take a dip in whatever spring would cure them before they leave, despite there being a helpful guide there who happens to know what curse each spring carries. Several episode plots revolve around trying to get back to Jusenkyō, even, and no one explains why they left to begin with.
    • There is also a storyline which involves a bar of soap that apparently cures the curse. However at the end of the story we discover that the fix is only temporary. However, it didn't seem to occur to the characters that they could have continued immunity to the curse if they used it every day like, say, one does with a bar of soap.
    • Or for the matter when they need to go to China to find the spring to cure their curse why not just take a boat or plane to get there. Ranma could have just swum to China like they did before.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya has an odd example where the possible solution is actively prevented by the cast. Haruhi is, unbeknownst to herself, a Reality Warper, and they don't want her to find out because she might bring about The End of the World as We Know It. But she's come close to discovering her powers numerous times, and she's reset the universe once or twice accidentally, so they're only delaying the inevitable. If they just told her directly, at least it wouldn't happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Maybe she could learn to control or suppress her powers consciously. Kyon tries to tell her, but she doesn't believe him, but he later invents what he thinks is a surefire way to convince her. Several novels later, he still hasn't tried it. Also, nobody ever thinks of trying to either attempt to remove her reality-warping powers or simply killing her before she discovers she has the aforementioned reality-warping powers (then again, the latter option would be very drastic). Although given the nature and extent of her powers, neither would likely work, so her friends might as well make contact with one of a magical being she thinks is real like a fairy and wish Haruhi out of existence.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • The fourth season, SuperS, has a new group of mysterious enemies show up to assault the people of Tokyo. All their monsters are circus-themed, and at the same time, a gigantic, sinister-looking circus tent just shows up in the middle of town without explanation. It's bigger than any building in the city and sticks out like a sore thumb. The Sailor Senshi are among the first to notice it. And then they just go about their lives, refusing to put two and two together and often wondering aloud where all these new enemies could possibly be coming from. Averted in the manga where the Senshi are on to the Dead Moon Circus from almost the beginning of the arc.
    • In the second season, R, because of the recent attacks by the Makai Tree Aliens, Luna ends up having to restore the memories of Usagi and the other Inner Guardians to combat this new threat. When it comes to trying to restore the memories of Mamoru (aka Tuxedo Mask), however, Luna never thinks of doing the same thing to him. Even if it wasn't possible due to Mamoru originally being from the Earth Kingdom instead of the Moon Kingdom in Usagi's previous life as Princess Serenity, it could've been worth a try at least.
  • Dragon Ball Z has a Double Subversion early on during the Saiyan Saga. When the group gathers the Dragon Balls to resurrect Goku, Oolong suggests that they could just wish to kill the evil Saiyans who are on their way to Earth, explaining that if it works they can bring Goku back at their leisure. However, Shenlong explains that wishes can't exceed the power of his creator Kami, and since both of the Saiyans are far stronger than him, such a wish wouldn't work. This also serves to explain why they don't try this tactic again in later story arcs. This becomes a Voodoo Shark, as observed by Dragon Ball Z Abridged: While Shenlong can't directly kill the Saiyans, nobody comes up with the idea of killing them indirectly, by making a wish like "Scramble their navigation systems so they fly into a star", or, more simply, "Make their spaceships explode before they get to Earth".
    • Bulma generally serves as something of an Audience Surrogate for this purpose - whenever an obvious solution to a problem comes up, she's usually the one to point it out. Examples include asking why they couldn't just use the Dragon Balls to kill Raditz (they couldn't gather the Dragon Balls in time) or locate Dr. Gero's lab (The main characters are fight-hungry idiots). Of course, in the latter case, Future Trunks was afraid that if they hadn't trained, Vegeta wouldn't get with Bulma and he might not exist, although he does eventually find out this wasn't necessary. Besides, if they had found Dr. Gero's lab before, they would have all been killed by Cell anyway.
    • In general, a lot of these plans either have backdoor reasons why it would've went really poorly if they went through with them, or the villains past the Saiyans are just extremely resilient or have regenerative abilities. Frieza survived an exploding planet after getting cut in half and blown away by Goku. At that point it's just pragmatic to expend all focus in making sure the problem is dealt with first hand.
  • Dragon Ball GT:
    • In the first arc, when the Black Star Dragon Balls got scattered throughout the galaxy, the Z Fighters thought it was best to build a spaceship and search for them, planet by planet, one at a time. However, the idea of simply using the normal Dragon Balls to wish for all the Black Star ones to appear on Earth never comes up. While this could easily be explained as being outside of Shenron's power (An explanation used in Dragon Ball Super when it was faced with a similar problem) it comes off as odd that there isn't even a throwaway line explaining this. Not even Bulma suggests it, despite her normally being the one to suggest using the Dragon Balls to solve their problems.
    • Again in episode 7-8 of GT. A monster named Zoonama threatens to destroy a village with earthquakes unless they give him a bride (it later turns out that Zoonama was only bluffing and doesn't actually have the power to cause earthquakes). For some reason the Z Fighters thought it was best to dress Trunks as a woman, get Zoonama to marry him, then cut off Zoonama's earthquake-causing whiskers while he was asleep during their honeymoon. At no point do the Z Fighters consider just beating up Zoonama and tearing off his whiskers, drive him out of the village, or at the very least, attempting a sneak attack.
  • The Hating Girl's central plot point is that the main female character has an arrow through her head because of a childhood archery accident, which has caused her a lot of physical and emotional pain over the years. The arrow can't be removed without possibly causing brain damage, but it's not until almost the end of the manga before it occurs to anyone that she could just cut off the parts that are outside her skull.
  • In Squid Girl, the titular character, Ika, is press-ganged by Chizuru into working at her family's beach restaurant after she damages a wall. The none too bright Ika never seems to realize that she could just swim away back into the ocean and reemerge on another beach far away and Chizuru would never be able to find her.
  • The last half of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable is dominated by the hunt for an unknown serial killer. One of the cast, Joseph, has the ability Hermit Purple, which gives him a decent array of divination abilities (creating pictures of the person, making detailed maps of a location, getting film of a specific place). In fact, the reason he's involved in the series to begin with is that they figured they could use his powers to help track down a different criminal, who ends up not needing to be tracked because he tries to kill Joseph, and gets beaten as soon as he tries. Despite this, nobody so much as suggests to Joseph that he could use his power to at least help locate the killer.
  • Akazukin Chacha has one example: Seravy hates Dorothy's pink hair and prefers the blonde hair she had when she was younger, and some episodes focus on his obsession with her prior self. Episode 62 (one of the episodes where the trio went back in time) reveals that Younger!Dorothy used a spell to change her hair color because Younger!Seravy wouldn't participate in a magic duel she challenged him to. Wouldn't it have been easier for Younger!Seravy to man up and fight her instead of making Younger!Dorothy make her hair "ugly" in his eyes, or better yet, why couldn't Chacha convince Younger!Seravy to man up and fight her while she was still in the past?
  • Magic Knight Rayearth would have been over quicker had Clef and co. tried to find the Magic Knights somewhere on Cephiro instead of kidnapping three girls from another dimension and forcing them to become the Magic Knights to save Princess Emeraude. The manga had a Hand Wave for this, saying nobody from Cephiro can harm the Pillar, so there was really was no way to avoid getting complete strangers to be taken to Cephiro to fulfill the duty as Magic Knights.
  • Charlotte focuses on kids who receive superhuman abilities from a comet of the same name that passes Earth every 75 years. Some of these superhuman abilities have been known to cause trouble, and a secret organization is trying to stop these kids from causing any more trouble, while many other groups want to exploit these superhuman kids' abilities. It never occurs to this organization that they could alert the world's governments to the more troublesome superhuman kids' powers and what Charlotte's comet dust is exactly doing, and possibly lead them into launching a missile into space and destroying Charlotte as soon as the 75-year period between its passings is up.
  • Death Note:
    • A lot of the death and destruction of the plot would have been avoided if the heroes had destroyed the titular notebook the moment they got it, even if they didn't believed it to be for real (as for keeping it as evidence... scanners and pictures would have surely done the work), or tossed it in a river, or placed it someplace very deep and dark and established that anybody who got close to it would be considered a suspect. The problem then becomes that most of the people in charge of things are hyper-competent chessmaster-types that kept little slivers here and there as backup and/or were crazy-obsessed enough to keep the damn thing around for the sake of proving themselves right, which shouldn't have stopped others like Matsuda from doing that, just in case. This is given a Hand Wave in that Light was crazy-prepared enough to put a fake rule in the Death Note that destroying it would kill everyone who touched it, specifically to avoid this scenario, but by the time the rule was exposed to be fake, Light was already in charge of the investigation.
    • The only reason Kira is even able to kill criminals in the first place is because the broadcasts reveal not only their faces but also their real names, even though most news reports in real life not only don't show criminals' names but also blur their faces in order to protect their identities and keep them safe from the public, and many criminals cover their faces specifically to prevent the police from tracking them. Even after Kira's method of killing people is known, the news continues to publicly broadcast criminals' faces and real names, allowing Kira's murders to go uncontrolled. Had governments simply ordered the media not to reveal faces and real names, there would have been a lot fewer casualties and, even better, a better chance of finding the culprit by narrowing down their search if the killings continued in spite of it.
  • Dungeon Toilet: Yotaro's weird fixation on passing stool gets his party in trouble more often than not, sometimes to ridiculous extremes. It appears the only reason his companions haven't abandoned or killed him yet is that he very occasionally comes through for them. Of course, if they were to do that, the manga would effectively end — Yotaro and his butt are the primary sources of the manga's content.

    Asian Animation 
  • The conflict of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, at least in earlier seasons, is based around Wolffy the wolf wanting to capture the goats and cook them so that he and his wife Wolnie can eat them. Very rarely does the suggestion that they could just eat the goats raw ever come up, even though it would save Wolffy a lot of time and effort. With that said, the wolves actually do try to eat Paddi raw in episode 90 of Joys of Seasons; the only thing that keeps them from successfully consuming him is that their teeth crack, since they had just consumed an entire candy house that Paddi had built for himself.

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men:
    • Rogue is a mutant who broods constantly because her mutant power has the potential to kill anyone she makes physical contact with. However, since mutant negation technology is an existing concept available (and has been shown to work on her in the past), it should be no problem to simply make a necklace or something with the embedded technology and just put an on/off switch on the circuit. End of meaningless brooding. This has been addressed a few times, most earliest being that it was revealed that, while a prisoner of the Genoshan government and forced to wear a power-suppressing collar, the Genoshan guards took advantage of her powerless state and raped her, so power-suppressing collars are a trauma button for her now. Later, Kelly Thompson's work on the character brought this plot point back and established that real issue is that power suppressing technology works via a component that also induces intense nausea and headaches, and because the only people typically interested in power-suppression are badguys, nobody's tried to make it more comfortable. Beast however, upon realising this, does attempt to make a better version of this technology.
    • Back when the Legacy Virus was ravaging Marvel's mutant population, a common fan suggestion was to intentionally infect Wolverine with the virus and use his antibodies to develop a cure. In fact, it's rather remarkable that this was not the way the writers ended up curing it. X-Men: The Animated Series however, did cure the virus in this manner.
    • The whole plot about the M-Pox (the incurable fatal disease du jour of The New '10s) seemed to have one solution that nobody wanted to try: find a way to turn the Terrigen Gas cloud roaming the Earth back into Terrigen crystals, especially because the Inhumans are so militant about defending anything related to their culture that trying to get rid of the gas any other way started yet another Crisis Crossover. One issue of Deadpool and the Mercs For Money written after the event showcased that the idea would have been doomed to failure anyway when Deadpool travels to an Alternate Universe where a mutant managed (at the cost of her life) to turn the gas back into crystals, and this supposed affront to the Inhumans' culture pissed off the Inhumans so much that they declared all-out war on mutantkind anyway.
  • Batman:
    • Many fans have, for years, been shouting for Batman to just kill The Joker. The counter-argument is that Batman fears that if he crosses that line, there will be no turning back Compounding the issue is the fact that not only has Batman passed on opportunities to (entirely legally) kill the Joker, he has actively intervened to stop heroes with a different moral code from finishing off the psychopath, including perhaps most infamously The Punisher. Also bear in mind, on a memorable occasion when he finally went "fuck it" and tried to kill the Joker (in Batman: Hush), it was The Commissioner Gordon himself that stopped him, saying that if he tried to do that, he would consider Batman no better than the other mad-dog psychos over on Arkham and he would do whatever it took to take him down. Batman, thus, decided to stop — because he considers Gordon a friend, and he knows he needs Gordon on his side to be effective in his war.note 
    • Barbara Gordon was Batgirl, but was then crippled by the Joker in The Killing Joke. After that, she used her keen intellect to become the Knowledge Broker Oracle. For years, there was the underlying question: In a World… where Death Is Cheap and Science Heroes are shown healing all sorts of ailments worse than Barbara's, why is she still in a wheelchair? The In-Universe answer is she said that she wouldn't use her connections to get any sort of treatment unavailable to the public. Batgirl (2011) finally had her regain her mobility and become Batgirl again.
    • Joker is also just the most obvious example of an instance of this throughout most mainstream comics; why aren't supervillains executed by the government? While there's Hollywood Law in play as to why they don't, there has been a number of explanations used to justify it. Firstly there's just the matter of supervillains who are powerful/capable enough of escaping prison are probably not the easiest to kill; try dragging Joker to an execution, he'll use it an escape opportunity, meanwhile someone who's a Flying Brick is probably immune to anything they have on hand. Secondly, in both Marvel and DC, the US Government is quite aware of how useful supervillains could be as expendable agents and so will often recruit them from prison for wetwork missions (most notably in DC's Suicide Squad, but this was something Henry Peter Gyrich did a number of times in Marvel). Thirdly, killing supervillains has been historically shown as a bad idea because Death Is Cheap and Came Back Wrong is a common result. Barry Allen killing Eobard Thawne back in the mid-80s actually led to Thawne becoming even more dangerous, as he became a paradox entity who then went on to retroactively kill Barry's mother. In the DCAU, killing Joker led to him pulling a Grand Theft Me on Tim Drake, who he had tortured and experimented on right before hand. In the DCEU, Superman killing Zod gave Lex Luthor a perfectly good Kryptonian body to experiment on, resulting in Doomsday being created. In West Coast Avengers, Mockingbird killed her rapist, Phantom Rider, but he gained magical powers in the afterlife and came back as a ghost, and has effectively haunted her since. So don't kill a villain unless you know they'll stay dead.
  • Spider-Man is widely known for his Perpetual Poverty even though both fans and writers often point out many ways he could make plenty of cash.
    • Peter can't hold down a full time job due to his activities as Spider-Man. He could easily ask Tony Stark, The Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D. or any of the other extremely wealthy people and organizations he's allies with for a job that's flexible enough for him to do superhero work. He has actually tried this, however there's the issue of trust and Peter not being one who finds it easy to forgive others. He still doesn't trust Tony Stark after what he did during Civil War and S.H.I.E.L.D. once outright wiped his memory after "employing" him (never mind his parents were S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who then got killed and framed for treason, adding an extra layer of issue), and when he joined an iteration of the Avengers that actually paid their members, Victoria Hand had became part of the infrastructure and refused to pay him without him disclosing his identity, and he wouldn't do that because Victoria Hand had previously worked for his arch-nemesis, Norman Osborn.
    • Peter also often complains that he can't license his likeness or get paid for media appearances without revealing his true identity. However, when he guest taught a class at Avengers Academy his charges informed him that he could have started a LLC and made money hands over fist while still keeping his identity secret. Spidey is so flustered and taken aback that he immediately changes the subject.
    • This was finally addressed in a storyline where Peter took over Doctor Octopus's company after it was renamed Parker Industries.note  Unfortunately, the company was later ruined as a result of a struggle between Peter and Doc Ock.
    • Why he doesn't find a way to make money as Spider-Man, outside of selling photos. In The Amazing Spider-Man (Nick Spencer), this got touched on when Peter is employed by Jonah (who is now aware of his identity and has flipped into becoming his most ardent supporter, but in a typical Jonah manner), by having his suit record his actions as Spider-Man and livestream them for a viewing public. Though it's naturally popular and well-paying, it doesn't last long because this somewhat forces Peter to "play to a crowd", and he finds the experience too embarrassing and distracting. There's also the obvious risk of accidentally revealing his identity.
    • It all gets averted and justified in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse with the two versions of Peter Parker. In Miles's universe, Peter Parker is rich from licensing his image, funding a high-tech hideout with tons of fancy gadgets underneath Aunt May's house. However, Peter B is still broke despite doing the same thing in his universe, due to his lack of business savvy and poor money management: his restaurant chain fails, his marriage breaks up, etc. The contrast between the two Peters confronts the Perpetual Poverty head-on with simple Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: being a superhero and genius inventor doesn't automatically grant success in business, nor safeguard you from scams, failure, and poor investments.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics):
    • There have been numerous characters that have enough mystical power to defeat Dr. Eggman, yet no one ever does. Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles have all gained power enough to defeat Eggman on separate occasions each, typically becoming Reality Warpers of various degrees. Yet it never occurs to them to personally take out Eggman. It's not even a reluctance to kill Eggman, because they often have non-lethal measures available. However, Mobius: X Years Later suggests that killing Eggman is what's needed; there would be new threats, but Robotnik/Eggman wouldn't return in any form. And yet, no one ever just puts a bullet in Eggman's head and calls it a day.
      • This bit is actually discussed. While taking his Evil Counterpart Scourge to his Zone Cop counterpart, Zonic, Sonic asks Zonic why none of the Zone Cops went to arrest Dr. Eggman, as in this continuity (prior to the reboot) Eggman was a Robotnik from an alternate Mobius. Zonic tells him that a multiversal constant is that Sonic must fight a Robotnik - since Sonic killed his Robotnik and Eggman killed his Sonic, it was only a matter of time before they met; thus it's out of his hands.
    • Power Rings have the ability to grant its user's greatest wish, and the main source of Power Rings is located near the heroes' home city. This is why Ian Flynn only occasionally used the Rings in his run of the comics, as he acknowledged that there was nothing stopping the Freedom Fighters from simply wishing for world peace.
  • Runaways required one to believe that absolutely nobody outside of the team could possibly understand their motives for wanting to stick together instead of going into foster care. This finally ended with Avengers Academy, when Nico uses magic to create a mind-meld with the Avengers.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dennis the Menace (US): For George Wilson, it's "just spank Dennis" (or move away from Dennis, or get in Dennis' face and scream at him really loud to get the hell away from him, or go to the Mitchells and tell them that next time Dennis goes to his house he's going to call the cops, sue them, or do whatever it takes to obtain retribution for Dennis' mischief)... it's a proven fact that just being plain grouchy and pleading to Dennis isn't going to make him go away.
  • The Gilligan-specific question is justified in the comic strip Monty (formerly Robotman, then Robotman and Monty), when the main character is trapped on the island from Lost. He discovers that the mysterious other inhabitants of the island are commanded by Gilligan, now oddly reminiscent of Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now. Gilligan reveals that he was only feigning incompetence to ensure that no-one ever escaped the island, actually being an evil mastermind. Killing Gilligan would still have been the better solution, but it would have been harder than not.

    Fan Works 
  • The Aristocats' Island. If the castaways just got rid of Berlioz, they'd be off the island in at least a week! After all, it is a parody of the Trope Namer.
  • Discussed by the four in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World. Paul mentions that the wizard Shaamforouz (whom they have grown to distrust) said that the Black Tower would destroy the amulet of mask-breaking if it was really that powerful. Ringo dismisses that by pointing out that it's useful to other people besides him, so why would they destroy something that useful just because there's a vague chance the good guys might get it? He also points out, with devastating logic, that the Amber Staff is a lot more dangerous for the Black Tower to let exist, because it's the centerpiece of the Nine-part Key, so why haven't they just destroyed it, or put it on a moon or something, which would instantly make it impossible for anyone to conquer them? But everyone knows it exists, so they must be using it for something.
  • In Second Wind, the Five Elder Stars order Sengoku to have Marineford's top brass attack the Straw Hat Pirates to prevent them from joining up with the Whitebeard Pirates in the New World. Sengoku is horrified, because regardless of whether or not they succeed in killing the Straw Hats, the Marines will still be weakened, and Whitebeard will still attack them. This situation could be solved by the World Government just letting the Straw Hats walk out the door with no resistance, but they're thoroughly convinced that option would be worse as it would tip the Balance of Power in Whitebeard's favor. Sengoku notes that the World Government is seemingly ignoring the fact that their half-baked idea to attack the Straw Hats will tip the balance of power to Whitebeard anyways. In fact, it's been noted by Sengoku that a lot of the Marines' problems wouldn't have happened if the World Government hadn't been so willing to jump to murder as their first option every time.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The LEGO Movie there is a massively popular Show Within a Show called Where Are My Pants? revolving around the single joke of the husband not being able to find his pants. This trope is parodied when Wyldstyle ends up on the set in order to make a broadcast across the universe and she simply chucks a pair of pants at the lead actor, declaring that the series is now over.
  • The third act of Aladdin happens because Aladdin doesn't free the Genie like he promised, because he needs the Genie's magic to keep pretending to be the phony prince that was allowed to marry Jasmine. Once the Genie actually is freed, we see that he still keeps all his magical powers — with the only difference being that he is no longer compelled to grant wishes. No one seems to have considered the option of freeing the Genie earlier, and then getting him to use his magic simply out of gratitude. It's possibly justified in that Genie's magic seems to be stronger when he is a prisoner of the lamp; an episode of the sequel series even has him specifically state that "[his] powers aren't what they used to be.
    Genie: Phenomenal cosmic powers, itty-bitty living space, ya know."
  • My Little Pony: The Movie (2017): Twilight's friends fight off the Storm King and his troops in the climax very easily, so doing this in the prologue would have saved us a movie.
  • In Song of the South Br'er Fox is obsessed with trying to capture Br'er Rabbit with needlessly complicated and sadistic schemes in order to prove he's cleverer than the prey that's outsmarted him countless times. Br'er Bear, who only cares about eating Br'er Rabbit, frequently remarks that it would be much simpler just to gang up on him and "knock his head clean off" with his club.
  • In Wizards Ralph Bakshi hangs a lampshade by overthrowing the trope at the climax: the good-guy wizard Avatar has spent the entire film trying to find a good-guy way to deal with his bad-guy wizard twin brother Blackwolf. Finally, after a ghastly war that has cost the lives of countless elves and fairies, in despair and totally out of ideas, he stands temporizing and delaying, apparently reminiscing about their mother, as Blackwolf prepares to zap him with powerful magic. Then he says "I'm glad you changed your last name, you son of a bitch", and does the one thing he had been refusing even to consider: pulls out a pistol and shoots Blackwolf dead. After which, in the last couple minutes of the movie, absolutely everything becomes just fine.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bob Denver, a.k.a. Gilligan, hung a lampshade on Gilligan's Island himself in the film Back to the Beach.
    Bartender: Hey, I knew a guy who could build a nuclear reactor out of coconuts but couldn't fix a two-foot hole in a boat.
  • Film/{[Brubaker}}: Brubaker doesn't fire the corrupt and murderous former trustees because he knows the other prisoners will kill them if they lose that protection. This leaves them in a position to continue committing murder and hurting his reforms.
  • Rosemary's Baby. Call home to Mom, have her buy you a train ticket. Since everyone around is being creepy and lying to you, and the honest ones are dying, just go back to Nebraska or wherever.note  And since those special witch foods aren't available back home, that should solve the problem of the inconvenient pregnancy. Of course, Rosemary was chosen for the plot specifically because she was the sort of person who wouldn't do just that. She's the type of good Catholic girl who won't leave her husband, or have an abortion, no matter what. She's also the sort of person to remain in denial about a situation as long as she possibly can, so that she will continue to convince herself everything is just fine long past the point that another woman would go running for help. In fact, the first time the witches tried this plot, it failed because the woman was Genre Savvy enough to not cooperate, so they had to drive her to suicide and be more careful with their choice. Plus the fact that the creeps, husband included, are extremely controlling. It's likely they'd just find a way to prevent her leaving.
  • Meanwhile, in The Stepford Wives, the above Rosemary's Baby justification for stupidity is also relevant. Yes, you at least have more reason to stay, as you're tied to your kids, but you're the one who was making so much over wanting a career. You're not even fighting for independence at this point, you've already achieved it; and you've already figured out what's rotten in Denmark, so you're the last woman (actually, she literally is) who should be sticking around for the inevitable.
  • In Enchanted, Giselle is teleported to the real world by coming out from a sewer. It seems that to come back to her original world she just had to go back to said sewer and throw herself in it as it was shown in the ending by Prince Edward and Nancy.
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army: It's not until the last couple of minutes of the film that Hellboy (or anybody, really) thinks of just melting the crown that controls the Golden Army, which is after everything has ended and the Big Bad has died courtesy of his twin sister committing a Heroic Suicide and taking him with her. It's never made clear if it was a viable option (the Big Bad was pretty damn determined to kill humans regardless and would probably have looked for a different method), but it's also not made clear that it wasn't.
  • Spider-Man Trilogy:
    • In Spider-Man 2, a large subplot is the fact that both Peter and Aunt May can't make rent in New York. While Peter might not want to live with May for safety reasons, the characters never even discuss the possibility. Further, Peter's professor Doc Connors complains that he is a great student but has terrible attendance (because he's working the pizza parlor and superheroing), but they never consider working for the university as an option.
    • In Spider-Man 3, Mary Jane is forced by the New Goblin to ditch Peter Parker, on pain of death. She doesn't even explain to Peter why she is dumping him, which brings up the obvious question: why doesn't she just tell him what the New Goblin is doing since she knows he's Spider-Man and therefore the best option there is to stop him? It's not like the New Goblin was even keeping tabs on her to make sure she wouldn't tell, by keeping Peter in the dark all she's doing from her perspective is letting a crazy murderous New Goblin hang around completely unchecked based on his word not to hurt anyone.
  • In Stagecoach, John Ford was once asked why, during the climactic chase scene, the Indians didn't just shoot the horses to stop the stagecoach? "Because the movie would have ended right there", he replied. Also the horses were probably the most valuable thing (to the Indians) on the stage. They didn't know about the stolen money and probably didn't know how many women were there. So if you kill the horses, all you get is the chance to rape and murder. This is underscored by the fact that when one of the Apaches gets close enough to the stage, the first thing he tries to do is hijack the horses.
  • Under Siege 2: Dark Territory: Steven Seagal spends half the movie keeping the specially encoded CD the villain needs to carry out his evil plot out of the evil villain's hands. He should have just broken the darn thing.
  • The Twilight series. Why doesn't Edward turn Bella into a vampire? It would avert almost all of the conflict after the first movie. At first, it's more justified as Bella asks Edward and he refuses because he doesn't like being a vampire and doesn't want her to be one. But when it becomes clear in later installments that they're going to be together and that everyone agrees that she should become a Vampire with even Edward agreeing to do it, Edward's reluctance needlessly continues to complicate the matter. Furthermore, most of the other Cullens are on board with her becoming a vampire. They abstain from turning Bella themselves out of respect for Edward's wishes but as their lives are continually placed in jeopardy trying to protect her, you'd think eventually one of them would just turn Bella and get it over with.
  • From Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever: An early action scene relies on the idea that the Defense Intelligence Agency is not allowed to actually shoot Sever in their attempt at apprehending her. (She's the only person who knows where she stashed a kidnap victim, so they need her alive.) As a result they try to shoot around her to pin her down so they can apprehend her. Needless to say, she escapes with ease. If just one person in the DIA had remembered that tasers exist, or tranquilizer darts, or tear gas, then the movie would have been over right there. Granted, that would also make The Bad Guy Win...
  • Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure falls victim to this until almost the very end, when the two not-so-bright heroes finally realize that, duh, they have a time machine, and proceed to arrange it so that, in some future time, they will go back into the past and cause certain events to happen in the present which will allow them to escape from jail and make it to the school in time to deliver their fateful history report. The climax of the sequel features both Bill and Ted and Big Bad Nomolos DeNomolos playing this game, each attempting to get the advantage in a Mexican Standoff... until Ted rightly points out that only one side gets to win, then go back in time and stage everything just right, and they had in fact planted all the items he thought he planted to lull him into a false sense of security. Probably not so much of a concern, because the film is too silly to be taken seriously.
  • A few moments in the Star Wars Saga have moments that could've solved some problems rather easily, but the characters still make some rather idiotic decisions.
    • Episode I: The Phantom Menace has Qui-Gon and Queen Amidala forced to land the Naboo ship on Tatooine, since the hyperdrive is disabled, and requires a new one. Watto refuses to take Republic Credits as currency and claims that nobody else has a Naboo ship hyperdrive. As shown in Episode IV, the easy way to get off Tatooine is to hire a transport, potentially even a smuggler, rather than an overly convoluted plot to bet everything on a pod race. Especially since all they needed to do was send one person to warn everyone about the Trade Federation and then everyone else could have been picked up at their leisure. It's heavily implied, though, that once Qui-Gon encountered Anakin, he became determined to free the boy from bondage and make him a Jedi. So once he met him (very shortly after landing on Tatooine), it became (in Qui-Gon's mind at least) less about escaping to Coruscant with the Queen and more about helping this Force prodigy who by all indications is The Chosen One achieve his destiny to bring balance to The Force.
      Finding him was the will of The Force. Nothing happens by accident.
    • Episode II: Attack of the Clones offers a notorious example. During the Battle of Geonosis, Obi-Wan and Anakin spot Dooku escaping, and Anakin orders the gunship's pilot to shoot him down, but he replies that they are out of rockets. Anakin doesn't even think to order the pilot to use the gunship's laser cannons and laser beam turrets to blast Dooku away. If they did, Dooku would've been killed off, he wouldn't have escaped, the Clone War doesn't have to happen, problem solved. Even if the war still begins, the Confederacy probably would've fallen quickly without Dooku's leadership. Pablo Hidalgo of the Lucasfilm Story Group, whose job it basically was to explain away stuff like this, stated that the gunship's lasers were strictly air-to-surface, and flying high enough to target Dooku with them would make them easy targets for the enemy's heavy fire. A mention of this in the film would have been nice, however.
    • In Legends, it is perfectly possible to quickly clone Force-sensitives (for every one success, you're likely to have ten failures that are insane or grotesquely-mutated, but Palpatine wouldn't care). Presumably, the only reason Palpatine didn't have the Kaminoans create a clone of Anakin Skywalker that he could easily raise to be totally loyal to him from the start as soon as he had access to both was his prideful desire to corrupt THE Chosen One that the Jedi put all their faith in. After Darth Vader was crippled on Mustafar, though, he has no such excuse, because we see him willing to pick up any moderately powerful young Force-user as Vader's replacement.
    • How It Should Have Ended asked why, in Rogue One Galen didn't just give the Death Star plans to Bodhi to give to Saw and the rebels instead of simply a message explaining what the Death Star is and that the plans that reveal the weakness he built into it are on Scarif, a very heavily guarded Imperial planet, effectively forcing his own daughter to go on a suicide mission. Word of God is that neither the characters nor the audience saw the whole message, and later parts detailed a plan to meet him and transfer the plans directly, also implying he didn't have access to the full plans himself, but this raises more question, like why Saw, who presumably saw the whole message, didn't shout anything about such critical info as Jedha was destroyed, or why the rebels needed the entire plans and not just the location of the exhaust port.
    • In A New Hope, had the Imperials destroyed the supposedly-empty escape pod with R2-D2, C-3PO, and the Death Star plans, it's very likely all events in the original trilogy would have been averted; Luke would have never gotten involved in the Rebellion, gotten in touch with the Force, and so forth. As the Family Guy spoof asks, "Hold your fire? What, are we paying by the laser now?"
    • If Tarkin had called in Star Destroyers to surround Yavin IV while he moved the Death Star in to fire on it -to stop the rebels from fleeing during the several minutes it takes the Death Star to get into position and fire, if nothing else- the majority of the rebellion would have been crushed at Yavin, even if Luke had still destroyed the Death Star. Robot Chicken asked a similar question of why the remaining Imperial Fleet didn't just keep fighting the rebels at Endor even after the Emperor and Death Star were gone, but the New Canon explains that Palpatine had special contingencies in the event of his death that the Imperials were more concerned with.
    • In The Force Awakens, Stormtrooper Captain Phasma gets caught by Finn, Han and Chewie at Starkiller Base, in an effort to lower the shields around the planet, so that the Resistance X-Wings can fly in, and destroy it. As the movie's How It Should Have Ended parody pointed out, she could've pulled off an I Surrender, Suckers moment and not lower the shields at all, and instead alert Starkiller Base to the presence of the intruders, thus preventing the dropping of the shields and ensuring the First Order's victory since the X-Wings wouldn't be able to fly into the planet and take it out. The new Expanded Universe and a deleted (and non-canon) scene in The Last Jedi establish that Phasma is actually a Dirty Coward with no loyalty to anyone, but Finn didn't know that when he came up with the plan.
    • The Last Jedi has an entire chunk of the movie revolve around a dangerous plan by the heroes involving getting a code-breaker so Finn and Rose can sneak aboard one of the First Order's ships and disable a Hyperspace Tracker, all because the Resistances current leader, Holdo, is giving them no indication of a plan, leaving them desperate enough to go behind her back in order to try and save the Resistance. It later turns out she did have a plan, and never told anyone for reasons never made fully clear, which became criticized because the entire plot, and her death later, could have been avoided if she simply told the heroes she had a plan, rather than her refusal to just tell people she had a plan. Detractors often point out that if she simply said she had a plan, but wasn't explaining further to avoid it being leaked, than the heroes would have been safe in the end, but because that wouldn't have made the story more dramatic, nor let the movies themes be spelt out, this very obvious point is never acknowledged even when Poe flat out begs out to just say she had a plan.
  • Star Trek: Generations: In the Nexus, Guinan notes to Picard that he can travel to any place and any time he chooses. Picard inexplicably chooses to arrive mere minutes before Soran obliterated the star in the Veridian system to stop him with Kirk's help, rather than any earlier point in the film, such as his first meeting. It was even brought up by The Nostalgia Critic in his review of the movie.
  • If The Purge is strictly an American phenomena (it was instituted by the New Founding Fathers of America, and no country not run by these baby-killers would institute it), then why doesn't everyone who can afford to simply take a vacation to another country the week the Purge is set to happen, and thereby not risk getting murdered? The implication is that for those who can't afford adequate protection, it's safer to stay and protect your property than to risk it being stolen or burned down, and pay tons for the plane ticket, but what if you have children or elderly with you who can't fight? Or what if you have no property worth risking your life for that you can't take with you? Or what if you decide not to pay for the plane ticket and simply hop the Canadian or Mexican border for a week, which is trivially easy? At the very least, you'd think the dead-homeless would leave the major cities around the time of the Purge (it's not until the third film that it's mentioned that the borders are closed during the Purge to prevent this, but 1) it's not made clear about whether or not this is a new measure and 2) the question still stands, only thing that changes is the fact you can't leave during the Purge). Fortunately, the film is a metaphor for general poverty, and runs on the MST3K Mantra.
  • In many 50's monster movies, the protagonists will declare a monster immune to conventional weapons after a few torso-shots from low-caliber revolvers don't faze it, oblivious to the fact that bigger guns and more critical points on the body exist. At the very least, Dead Space and Return of the Living Dead showed that even something that can't technically be killed can still be dismembered or burned until it no longer poses a threat.
  • In Jem and the Holograms (2015):
    • The main characters gain access to an AI companion called Synergy, which was developed by Jem's father and has the ability to display holograms and information (not to mention that it has a design similar to BB-8 from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a robot concept that proved to be a massive merchandising success in real-life). At this point, the characters are also struggling to make money in order to prevent the government from foreclosing on the aunt's house, which is in arrears. It doesn't occur to any of the girls that this robot (which has groundbreaking design technology in the film's universe) would net them a meeting with virtually any tech company out there if they chose to license it or sell the concept.
    • The main conceit of the second act (that Jem leaves her friends in order to pursue a solo career with Erica Raymond and therefore get the money she needs) falls flat within the world of the film. The contract Erica gives her is vaguely worded and puts Jem in such a position that she would be an indentured slave to the company, performing shows with no expectation of payment and no guarantee of royalties or future earnings. If Jem was as famous as the film played her up as, she would have many ways of making money outside of Erica's influence — either by selling music through a third-party provider like iTunes, monetizing her videos on Youtube, booking shows herself or selling memorabilia.
    • There is no adequate reason given for why Jem gives up her earrings to Erica, nor any reason given why she just doesn't ask for them back from the owner (given that they are a personal item that Erica shouldn't have any reason to want to keep them in the first place, and Jem needs them to fix Synergy). Instead, Jem and the group enact a plan that involves breaking into the record company's offices after-hours so they can steal the earrings back. This only happens so that they can find Rio's father's will that explains that he's the real owner of Starlight Records.
  • In Happy Death Day, the protagonist, Tree, is stuck in a "Groundhog Day" Loop in which she is killed at the end of every day. The killer in question though, never gives Tree the impression of being anything more than a normal human and is in fact two people; a dangerous but untrained and under-equipped serial killer and another college girl. Tree doesn't try simply killing or incapacitating either killer until she knows their identity though, even though she could easily use the loop to get good weapons and know exactly when and where they'll strike if she follows roughly the same path each time.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • In a hotly debated topic, everybody keeps bringing up the eagles. Why don't the Fellowship just use them to fly to someplace near Mordor, and then get to Mount Doom quicker, and then drop the Ring, and end it once and for all? Interestingly, it's a case of this leading to a short story with a Downer Ending; without Gollum's interference, no one would have had the will to destroy the Ring. Also notice that it's not listed under Literature. The films do not explain the role of the eagles in Tolkien's works, but that role makes using them a touchy matter. For one thing, they say they're afraid of archers (which Sauron has in spades), they're not subtle (being giant eagles), no one knows how the Fellowship was going to enter Mordor, and to top it all off, the eagles get their marching orders from God via His right hand angel. Just as His angels, such as Gandalf, are to aid but not dominate the Free Peoples, the eagles answer to a higher power. However, nothing's stopping the Fellowship from getting Gandalf to convince God to let them use the Eagles for their mission, ditching Sauron temporarily, and then blindfolding the Eagles and flying them straight to Mordor.
    • In Elrond's flashback of Isildur being corrupted by the One Ring in The Fellowship of the Ring, after Elrond tells Isildur to destroy it, Isildur declines, due to being corrupted by the Ring. Because Elrond was right there as Isildur was walking away, and also, since Isildur was not invisible (since he didn't put the ring on) he could've just stopped him from leaving with the Ring, and then tossed it into the lava to destroy it, which would've derailed the whole story altogether, rather than doing absolutely nothing and letting Isildur walk off with the Ring. Also like the eagles example, it's not listed under the Literature folder, as Tolkien's own writings, however, implied that Elrond wouldn't have been able to destroy the Ring either.
    • In the third movie, The Return of the King, Denethor thinks Faramir died, Pippin is the only one who figured out that he was KOd from a poisoned arrow and needs medical attention. After Gandalf knocks Denethor out after he yells "Abandon your posts!", no one, not even Pippin himself, takes advantage of the opportunity to get Faramir to the House of Healings, or even get him medicine and have him recover! Instead, they apparently leave him unattended, and he is taken by Denethor to be burned alongside him in the Tomb of the Stewards! If Pippin had taken Faramir, all this would've been avoided!
  • Back to the Future Part II:
    • The second half could've been avoided if Marty had taken the DeLorean's keys out of the ignition and close and lock the doors before wandering off to look at the Hilldale suburb. This would've prevented Biff from taking it undetected and traveling back to 1955 to give his younger self the sports almanac which he uses to bet on horse races where he gets lots of money, which he then later becomes rich and powerful, corrupts Hill Valley, murders Marty's dad, George McFly, forced Lorraine into marrying him, and had Doc sent to an insane asylum.
    • During the third act, Marty learns that Old!Biff gave the almanac to Young!Biff in 1955 and that Young!Biff earned his first million(s) in 1958 by betting on the ponies after turning 21. That gives Doc and Marty about a three-year span of time to steal the almanac back from Young!Biff, rather than going to November 12th, 1955, the day Old!Biff went to to give his younger self the almanac, and risk running into 1955!Doc and Part I!Marty. Alternatively, if they still think it would've been better to get rid of the almanac as soon as possible to minimize any changes to the timeline and because they probably don't know where else Biff is besides that date, they could have just waited until about 3am on the day of the Under the Sea Dance (after the storm had passed) and stolen it while he was asleep or whatever. All of the urgency of the third act in Part II is incredibly forced.
  • In George of the Jungle 2, the scheme of Ursula's ex Lyle and her mother to hypnotize her into thinking she's married to Lyle falls apart partly because they don't think of hypnotizing George Jr. too or leaving him with George. Additionally, it doesn't cross Junior's mind to tell his mother the truth until near the end.
  • War of the Worlds: Had the aliens stayed away from Earth, they wouldn't have gotten sick and died.
  • Avengers: Infinity War:
    • Many reviews love to point out that since Thanos's goal is to fix what he perceives to be overpopulation and diminishing resources problems, he could've just used the Infinity Gauntlet to create never ending resources or alter the universe's fertility rate instead of killing half of the universe. Perhaps the heroes could have even aided Thanos in assembling the Infinity Stones rather than putting up the sheer resistance we see in this film. The Word of God response is that Thanos is a Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist whose true desire is to prove that his original plan (killing half of his race to prevent overpopulation) would have worked (There's a reason he's called the 'Mad Titan', after all). Indeed when he found out that the heroes are not "grateful" for his actions and are trying to reverse it, Thanos drops his good intentions entirely and declares that he will use the stones to erase the whole universe before remaking it so that they will be grateful for his actions.
    • Another notable case of this trope becomes apparent during the scene where Dr. Strange, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Mantis and Drax attempt to pry the Infinity Gauntlet off Thanos's arm, which ultimately fails when an enraged, grief-stricken Quill wrecks their attempt and allows Thanos to snap out of his Mantis-induced trance. Keep in mind that Dr. Strange is a powerful sorcerer who can open portals leading into nearly anywhere in the universe, which are also shown to inflict clean Portal Cuts; if he had though of putting Thanos's arm through a portal and closed it while it was halfway through, the team wouldn't have had a hard time preventing the death of half the universe in the first place. Supposedly, this is the only one out of the 14 million outcomes that led to their victory over Thanos but given the fact that said outcome involves Tony & Natasha being dead, other timelines being altered as a result of their Time Travel or the potential consequences of people suddenly reappearing 5 years later, it's really hard to see it that way when Strange putting more effort into subduing Thanos or Thor finishing him off would have had a far better outcome as far the viewers are concerned.
  • Avengers: Endgame: When the remaining heroes decide to go back in time to get the Infinity Stones before they were destroyed by Thanos, they go for a very convoluted plan to go to various points in the timeline (namely, the events of The Avengers (2012), Thor: The Dark World, and Guardians of the Galaxy) to retrieve the stones. However, they never think of going to between when Thanos did the Snap and escaped to The Garden planet and the day he used the Infinity Stones to destroy themselves (two days before their raid on Thanos's place with Captain Marvel) and taking him down there and retrieving all the stones in one fell swoop.
  • Miracle on 34th Street features a guy being put on trial because the adults think he's insane for claiming to be Santa. If he wanted to prove that Santa was real, why didn't he just ask the adults where they think the presents are coming from? This could apply to literally any scenario where Santa needs people to believe in him.
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: If Newt Scamander couldn't get the lock to his suitcase fixed, he could've just grabbed some rope to tie it shut...which he does by the end of the film.
  • Jaws: The Revenge features the shark specifically coming after members of the Brody family. The mother decides to leave town, but if the shark was only coming after them, wouldn't it be easier to just stay away from the water?
  • The Hateful Eight: It's repeatedly pointed out that John Ruth would get just as much money for bringing in Daisy dead as alive, and it would certainly make his life much easier. But he insists on bringing her in alive, and his only defense is a flippant claim that he wants to give the hangman business. Oswaldo makes a small speech about the nature of justice which seems to resonate with John. In the end, Warren and Mannix do their best to bring Daisy to justice by hanging her themselves instead of just shooting her. Ironically, summarily executing the bounties was the bounty hunters' plan in the film this takes much of its inspiration from, as the Bounty Hunters were the antagonists.
  • The INCspotlight review of The Adventures of Captain Marvel points out that if there are no repercussions for destroying the Golden Scorpion at the end of the serial, it should have been destroyed long ago so that more people wouldn't die over it.
  • The Bum Reviews video for Alice in Wonderland (2010) has the Bum question why they didn't have the Cheshire Cat snap the Red Queen's neck while she isn't looking instead of having Alice scar herself for life by beheading the Jabberwocky and nearly lose her life attempting it, or better yet, use the cakes that turn people into giants to the resistance's advantage and flatten the Red Queen into a pancake?
  • Subverted in Insidious: In an impressive moment of genre savviness, the moment the protagonist family figures out that they are living in a haunted house and that the hauntings are malevolent in nature, they get the hell out of Dodge fast. Unfortunately for them, the "malevolent haunting" in question just follows them to their new home.
  • Played with example in New Jack City. When the Italian mafia tries to assassinate Nino Brown during a wedding, officer Scotty Appleton, who is undercover, sees a perfect chance to kill Nino by shooting him in the back of the head during the chaos. But when he is about to pull the trigger, a mobster starts firing in his direction, forcing him to return fire missing his chance. Afterwards, he tells his boss that he is tired of waiting to arrest Nino Brown when he could have just killed him.
  • In the setting of Inception, the danger of dream invasions is well enough known that businessmen hire people to do it to their rivals and undergo mental training to defend against it. But given that you need to be hooked up to a bunch of machines in your sleep, a few real bodyguards who clobber anyone who tries would protect you better than the training would, while also protecting you from mundane kidnapping or assassination. Yet neither of the Mega-Corp owners have any physical protection.

  • The Siege of Earth in the second tome of Dahak trilogy, "Armageddon Inheritance". For those who don't know the book: Earth's moon is in fact a spaceship so powerful it makes the Death Star look like a piece of junk, and the titular Dahak is the Benevolent A.I. controlling it. Sometime before the aforementioned Siege, Colin gets his hands on over 70 warships that make Dahak look like a piece of junk, but he doesn't have enough crew for all of them and their computers are complete idiots, which is why he needs Dahak to control them. There are two types of Faster-Than-Light Travel in the series: Enchanach Drive (warp drive by a different name) and Hyperdrive which is 3 times faster but doesn't allow communication during transit. Since they need Dahak to control most of the ships they travel by Enchanach Drive and reach the Earth 7 months after the Siege has started, and barely make it in time to save Earth (and a billion people have died already). This trope comes into play when you remember that while he didn't have the crew for all ships he did have the crew for some ships and he could have sent these few manned ships by Hyperdrive arriving much earlier before the siege even started. Considering how powerful the ships were, even one or two could've defeated the bad guys that attacked during the Siege with ease.
  • In Journey to the West, almost every story features Xuanzang believing Zhu Bajie's lies about Wukong, taking his bad advice, or taking his side in arguments. He gets captured by demons as a result, and despite this happening dozens of times in the story, he never realizes that Bajie is always wrong. Every single time.
  • Twilight:
    • In the second book, why did Alice not just call someone to check if Bella is dead since, presumably, she knows that her visions aren't always set in stone and can be altered? Why did she not wait to tell her family what was going on before she left to confirm what was up? It couldn't have taken more than a day or so to figure out, and it would certainly save Edward the trouble of thinking Bella's dead after leaping to conclusions from calling her father, who happened to be at a funeral.
    • Or if Edward had asked to speak with Bella, rather than Charlie, when he called, thereby avoiding the whole misunderstanding caused by Jacob saying that Charlie was arranging a funeral. Or if Jacob had said whose funeral Charlie was arranging (even something vague like "a friend"). Really, just one of any number of things could have prevented the whole thing from happening.
    • On the subject of Twilight, it would have saved a whole lot of trouble if the Cullens had just banded all seven of themselves together and ripped off the heads of the three vampires threatening Bella. One could argue that the Cullens were trying to be more peaceful than that, but their immediate plan after James and Victoria are out of sight and making plans of their own is to lure the two vampires away and kill them!
    • Eclipse would have been a lot shorter if the Cullens decided to drop on by Seattle and have a quick look in on the newborn who was going on an insane killing spree if only to keep away the Volturi if not to prevent further human deaths.
    • If Bree Tanner had realized that she could have run away as soon as it became evident that the leaders of the newborns she was with were dangerous (which she figured out very early on), there would have been no plot to the novella at all. Even if Bree didn't want to risk hiding in shade during the day, she still doesn't think to run away when she does learn that direct sunlight is safe!
    • Come to think of it, how much of the crap everyone in the series goes through could have been avoided if just one person in the entire Cullen family had realized just how badly Edward was coping with being a vampire and persuaded him to get some counseling?
  • Överenskommelser by Simona Ahrnstedt has a severe case of this. Beatrice and Seth could have solved all their problems at once, just by talking to each other and admit that they loved each other! But alas... At least Seth later admitted that he had been an idiot...
  • Henry Darger seems to have asked this question of himself in his monumental novel In the Realms of the Unreal. An inspirational portrait of a child rebel leader has been lost. Things have gone very badly for the good guys ever since. Darger has two generals asking each other how the loss of a picture could be responsible for the situation, expressing impatience with their own author and his obsessive search for the actual portrait he had lost in Real Life (here it is). He had threatened to have the bad guys win in his story if the picture was not returned or replaced.
  • The eponymous Ethan Frome could have saved everyone a lot of misery and just gotten himself a divorce from Zena.
  • Hyouka is a series about the protagonists solving mysteries around their school, usually through research and clever deduction. However, many mysteries, including some that form entire arcs) could be solved within a few minutes by questioning people involved. For example, one mystery involved a library book that was constantly being dropped off within hours of being picked up, and there was no known connection between any of the people who borrowed it. Rather than simply asking any of the people involved, they spend half an episode coming up with various theories, analyzing every little detail, and wracking their brains over what could possibly be going on.
  • The Shining: Wendy could have saved herself a lot of hassle if she'd just taken Danny and sucked it up and gone to stay with her bitchy mother in September, when Jack started showing signs of drinking.
  • Subverted in The Lord of the Rings. It is suggested at one point that the One Ring be given to Tom Bombadil, who is completely unaffected by its corruption mostly because he just doesn't care about it despite its great power. Gandalf shoots the suggestion down by pointing out that Tom Bombadil would probably end up losing it or throwing it away because he doesn't care about it.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • If Ned Stark had held off confronting Cersei until after he had gathered a force of trustworthy soldiers and made sure his daughters safety was secured, then he wouldn't have been betrayed and executed, and Sansa and Arya wouldn't have been at his enemies' mercy.
    • Jorah Mormont ruined his life and drove his House into destitution trying to support the affluent lifestyle of his highborn wife. However, it's never explained why he didn't just ask his obscenely rich in-laws for the money needed to keep their daughter happy. Although, the most likely reason was that Jorah is so prideful that he would sooner die than ask anyone for help.
    • In the second book, Arya, while being held as a prisoner of war, is rewarded by an assassin she had previously saved with her choice of three deaths. She wastes the first two on cruel soldiers and uses the third to help free some of her brother's high ranking soldiers and start an uprising in the camp. She later realizes that she should have used one of the deaths to kill someone important like Tywin Lannister and cripple the Lannister war effort.
    • Tyrion and Cersei spend much of the second book competing against one another for control over King's Landing. The thing is, Cersei is Queen Regent and is, on paper at least, the highest authority in the country. There's nothing stopping her from just overruling whatever decision Tyrion makes and she could easily strip him of his position and power if she thinks he's undermining her. Conversely, since he knows that one of her significant personality traits is fear of her rightful power being taken away from her, if he had made more of an attempt to keep her in the loop for his plans there would have been a lot less drama during the book, and would probably have caused him less problems down the road. The worst example is when she tries to smuggle her younger son out of the city for safety, Tyrion orders the boy kidnapped simply to take him to another safe haven anyway. Of course, it's made pretty evident that Tyrion is getting off on the rush of power through the book.
  • Most of the plots in the Redwall series could have been avoided had the heroes simply killed the villain(s) of the book or neutralized them before they could begin their campaign of evil, or simply fortified the Abbey and made it impossible for villains to raid. Or rather, since the abbey is already an impressively-walled stronghold, keep that damn wicker gate locked so the Abbey children won't go off into the woods again. It's somewhat justified by each book taking place years apart, so the precautions taken during times of siege are often forgotten or outright unecessary by the time the next vermin army comes rolling up.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: For Greg Heffley, it's "Just Run Away From Home" (or "Just Get The Heffley Family Some Counseling", or "Just Ground Rodrick", or "Just Make Greg Grow Up"), as it's a proven fact that using a "journal" to vent about how bad your life is usually doesn't work in solving your problems.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow: Season 3 would be much shorter if at any point of time Oliver would just let the League of Assassins deal with the Magician like they wanted to. Considering that the Magician is a villain himself and Oliver himself wanted to kill him at two points of time for the same reasons League hunts him (the Undertaking and his role in Sara's murder) it makes very little sense that he would want to risk conflict with the League(which helped him in the past) just to protect him. Yes, he has a reason to protect him (he's Thea's father) but this falls flat when you remember that Thea herself rather sensibly disowned him after she learned that he drugged and brainwashed her to kill Sara, making it look like Oliver has the Conflict Ball super-glued to his hand. The show tries to justify it with the Magician's claim that the League will punish Thea, since they're the one who actually fired the arrows, but once Ra's al Ghul makes clear he considers the Magician the real killer, Oliver could have just let the problem resolve itself.
  • The Black Donnellys: The sheer amount of trouble and misfortune that could be avoided if Tommy stopped bailing out Jimmy and Kevin every time they do something stupid, greedy, arrogant, or hot-headed is staggering. The two are seemingly incapable of following Tommy's advice on a single intelligent matter and cause themselves, Tommy, and everyone else around them no end of grief as a result. Joey Ice Cream lampshades this, noting that Jimmy and Kevin are always dragging Tommy down, and he lets them get away with it due to familial loyalty and guilt over maiming Jimmy.
  • Gilligan's Island:
    • The title character is the Trope Namer, whose bungling so often sabotaged the rest of the cast's attempts to get back to civilization, that one has to wonder why they simply didn't eat himor at least arrange for some sort of "accident" to happen to him. Or if they didn't want to be killers, they could've just locked him up until they got off the island (which would likely only take a week), then send someone back for him afterwards. Or they simply could have given Gilligan a less critical role in the plan.
    • Evidence from the show itself actually helps Gilligan's case. Statistically speaking, out of 98 episodes, only 37 involved a direct possibility of escaping the island. Of those 37, only 17 potential rescues were foiled as a result of Gilligan's actions. Admittedly, that's still a lot of rescues for one man to screw up, but the series also has a large number of episodes where Gilligan's actions save everybody — from death, enslavement, imprisonment, etc.
    • They did throw a lampshade on this in one escape attempt, in which they'd found gold on the island but the weight limit on the escape craft could only hold so much. Gilligan was the only one to actually abide by the limit, with the others attempting to smuggle more along with them than they were allowed, including the Professor.
    • Invoked hard in one episode. The castaways hear a radio broadcast where an investigation of the disappearance of the Minnow concludes that their disappearance was due to the negligence of the crew. In order to see if this was the case they recreate the day the shipwreck happened, with everyone involved repeating exactly what they did that day. It's discovered that as soon as the Skipper realized the storm was blowing them off course, he ordered Gilligan to drop anchor. Gilligan, however, hadn't bothered to tie a rope around the anchor, making it worse than useless. Therefore it really is Gilligan's fault that they were shipwrecked.
    • The title character of Dusty's Trail, a Gilligan's Island rip off also made by Sherwood Schwartz, was just as bad as the Minnow's first mate. As the show's own theme song explained, Dusty got his group separated from their wagon train going to California and nothing ever goes right because of him.
  • Just about any show which features Time Travel as a plot device has the potential to suffer from this trope if the heroes are too stupid to figure out a way to use that device to its full potential.
    • A stand-off occurs between the Doctor and the Master in the Doctor Who parody film Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death. The Doctor wins the fight by arranging for the architects to have built a trap door under where the Master's feet would have been after the race goes extinct.
    • The Doctor Who series proper handwaves this by saying that the Doctor "can't interfere with established events" — which is code for "can't use time travel in any fashion that would make the dilemma of the week too easy to solve" or "having the Doctor solve the dilemma in stories taking place in the past would force the writers to have to keep track of a newly established Alternate History."
    • The in-universe explanation for this is that the Doctor and other "time aware" species like the Daleks are aware of fixed points in history that cannot be changed. This is usually indicated by their significance in subsequent history books. It seems that the more an event is ingrained into legend, the less power the Doctor has to alter it. Like the Titanic sinking, the volcano which destroyed Pompeii, the mysterious destruction of the first Mars colony, etc. Attempts to push against these boundaries seem fruitless as Fate keeps making them happen anyway, as their consequences are so ramified that no substitute event could achieve a paradox-free outcome. It is implied that it is possible to beat fate, but only by accepting all the ramifications to the stability of time. Even a Dalek is shown sparing someone's life because it realizes she isn't meant to die yet.
    • Series 6 shows what happens when a "fixed point" is altered irrevocably; it breaks history. The entire history of Earth is altered so it all takes place at once, and it's always the moment when time broke.
  • The Flash (2014):
    • Episode "the Flash is born" would've been over in five minutes flat if anyone thought of exploiting Girder's Logical Weakness. Bad guy in question can turn his skin to metal protecting him from practically anything Flash can throw at him. However, this wouldn't protect him from electricity. Solution: Buy a stun gun or ask local Gadgeteer Genius for an electric weapon to deal with him. No one from the Team Flash thinks of this.
    • Inverted in "Rogue Time". Barry does have a way to quickly deal with Weather Wizard (after traveling back in time episode earlier he knows exactly where Weather Wizard is, and can catch him immediately) and he does so, despite being advised otherwise by Dr. Wells. This however ends up massively backfiring causing problems, among others, with recurring villain Captain Cold. The rest of the episode is pretty much cleaning up the after-effects of eating said Gilligan.
    • In "Trajectory" is revealed that Zoom's powers are killing him. No one ever thinks of simply waiting for that to happen. Granted, there's a lot of damage he could do on Earth-2 in that time, so just leaving him be could be catastrophic, but no one seems to even consider the option.
    • In "Versus Zoom", Zoom kidnaps Wally and says he'll only release him if Barry gives him his powers. Zoom actually keeps his promise and leaves Wally free and stays still while they inject him with Barry's powers. No one for a moment even entertained the idea of putting absolutely anything else in that syringe. Poison, a narcotic, acid, etc. Any of those would have actually given them an advantage against him, at the very least for a few minutes. More than enough for them to get the upper hand and capture him.
    • The vast majority of the threats on the show are from villains who for whatever superpowers they might have still have normal human reflexes and reaction times. Instead of just running in and punching out the villains Barry has the tendency to just stand there quipping at villains which gives them the chance to actually use their powers. This is because otherwise Barry could defeat them and have them in chains before they were even capable of registering that he's there much less able to use their power. This is particularly blatant with villains like Captain Cold and Heatwave, who are just perfectly normal humans with some fancy sci-fi guns and who The Flash should be able to take out before they even pull the trigger.
    • Cicada quickly became a Scrappy among the series Big Bads by combining this trope with Informed Ability. According to Nora, no superhero can stop him (or at least the original timeline version, which isn’t indicated to be different in any meaningful way), but his main powers are enhanced physical abilities, an energy shield (that he rarely uses) and a dagger that nullifies (most) nearby meta’s powers and he can control telekinetically. Even setting aside using lethal force to stop him from killing a member of Team Flash or escaping to inevitably kill again, or getting Supergirl, The Legends or Team Arrow to hand him his ass with powers, magic or tech that he can’t nullify, they almost never attack him with ranged weaponry, and when they do (or otherwise temporarily incapacitate him), they never simply beat him into unconsciousness to have Barry run him into the pipeline or slap him in meta cuffs, allowing him to recover and either attack or pull a Villain: Exit, Stage Left.
  • In Lost in Space, Dr. Smith is a sanctimonious coward who constantly gets the whole ship in trouble through his greed. A great many potential future problems could have been solved simply by leaving him to get killed in the mess he's caused for himself.
    • A later comic continuation by Innovation Comics partially addresses that by the Robinsons and West finally losing their patience with Smith, throwing him in one of the ship's cryo tubes and keeping him there. At least the movie adaptation gave an explanation as to why he wasn't immediately thrown out the airlock after his first treachery, and they did eventually leave him to die after his betraying them yet again.
    • The third season episode "Time Merchant" establishes that had Dr. Smith not been aboard the Jupiter 2, it would have been destroyed in space by a collision. Dr. Smith's additional mass changed the ship's trajectory enough to avoid the collision but also threw the Robinsons off course. It seems that Dr. Smith is incompetent all around.
    • In the original pilot (and the first few episodes) Dr. Smith was a scarily competent, utterly ruthless spy and saboteur who sneaks aboard the ship, disables (or kills) a guard with his bare hands, reprograms the robot to sabotage the ship, and only stays aboard because he miscalculates the amount of time he has to get off (he may have been set up by his controllers so he wouldn't still be around to answer any embarrassing questions). He was changed into the bumbling, cowardly character we all love to hate because the producers (and Johnathan Harris himself) realized that otherwise, they couldn't possibly justify the rest of the crew not getting rid of him somehow. In fact, Irwin Allen originally planned to kill off the character for exactly that reason, but was convinced it would be better to use him as comic relief.
  • Alexander Fitzhugh on Land of the Giants is basically an Expy of Dr. Smith – at least in that it's another Irwin Allen show and he fills the Complainer Is Always Wrong niche in the cast. Really though, he isn't nearly so hopelessly awful as Smith, and generally proves himself to be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold and Cowardly Lion who will come through in the end, after spending half the episode loudly proclaiming that he'll do no such thing. And his fast-talking skills are consistently actually useful for the heroes. Which isn't to say that he doesn't make trouble for the others, but he's not a complete Load like Smith.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Many a fan has wondered why the Big Bad never just sends all the monsters at once instead of doing it one at a time, or simply launched an attack themselves if they were so powerful. Immediately, that is, not at the final episode where the heroes get an inexplicable power boost either. Similarly, more than a few seasons had the Rangers know exactly where the villain's base was located, but it never occurred to them to take three or four Humongous Mecha to the location and stomp on stuff until a final battle was forced.
    • The few times the villains do actually send multiple enemies for the Rangers to fight at once (for example, during the "Green With Evil" story arc which introduced the Green Ranger) the result is usually a decisive victory for the villains. Makes you wonder why they never took the hint and just did that all the time.
    • The monster sending was justified in Power Rangers Time Force as Ransik isn't strong enough to control all the Mutants if he released them all at once, as pointed out by Linkara. This reason was also used in Masked Rider.
    • Explained in Shin Kenjushi (New/Heart Gunman) (Née Jushi Sentai [Musketeer Squadron]) France Five, an Affectionate Parody of Super Sentai and French culture. The Eiffel Tower projects a forcefield around planet Earth, meaning that the Big Bad can only send small squadrons of troops to Earth at a time, including a monster, some Panous-panous and his two lieutenants.
    • As per Tony Oliver at Power Morphicon 2007, quoting Haim Saban: "Because if they call 911, then I don't have a TV show." (Presumably Haim was saying that if somebody were to call the police whilst the Monster of the Week was still small or such, the Power Rangers would have an easy victory).
    • Also makes sense in Power Rangers RPM. The city of Corinth is surrounded by a forcefield, meaning that each monster has to have some way to get around that and into the city. Also, finding out where the enemy's base is is a major plot point.
    • Lothor, the lead villain in the delightfully self-aware Power Rangers Ninja Storm, actually attempts to supersize all of his monsters at once, only for the computer to respond with a memory error and his underling pointing out that he skimped on the memory upgrade that would let him supersize more than one monster at a time.
    • Similarly, still in Ninja Storm, "Why don't you just get the Zords from the beginning and stomp the monster?" was discussed (while not done in a way that justifies it for the whole series) when the Rangers were having trouble fighting multiple monsters who managed to break the Conservation of Ninjutsu (oh, and they actually were ninjas, working for the ninja-based villain faction.) Dax suggests sending the Zords even though "we don't normally do this," but they couldn't be launched due to an earlier monster-inflicted computer virus.
    • Natsuki uses this exact tactic in Boukenger. And it's simultaneously horrifying and hilarious.
    • Except once in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, but the result wasn't good, because this monster was specifically designed to hijack the Zords. And in Power Rangers Turbo, because the monster was sun-powered, and the Rangers decided the only way to defeat him was using the Megazord to shadow him.
    • The Zords couldn't be sent "all at once" because the "laws of Good" prevent Good from "escalating" the violence. The bad guys, especially in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers most likely have limits such as the magic taking a heavy toll on the user. In fact Ivan Ooze in The Movie needed to hypnotize people to build the technology so that he could use it.
    • It's also lampshaded in the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers comic — one of the team asks why they don't just go straight to their Megazords and squish the villain while he's still small. The response is that Zordon has instructed them to only match force for force against their enemies, due to some pseudo-Eastern mystic from space logic about fair play... of course this means that the enemy will cause more suffering, death, destruction and damage than if they'd fought unfairly...
    • "Why don't villains just blow up the Rangers' houses at night?" has also been dealt with, once again, by Ninja Storm. The Dragon suggests attacking them at the sports shop they work at, but Lothor says that a Ranger's power can only truly be destroyed while the Ranger is morphed. (Mind you, we've seen that prove untrue more than once in the past, but hey, they tried.)
    • This is more clearly explained in Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue and Power Rangers Samurai. In Lightspeed Rescue the demons locate the base, but since it's underwater they can't destroy it as water is their kryptonite. In Samurai, it's explained that a shield protects it from monster attacks.
    • Another reason is that provoking massively powerful superbeings with armies untrained for the situation at hand is a bad idea. The good guys are five teenagers who are invariably placed against nigh-impossible odds. Escalating the war would cause the villain to actually get off their duff and start actively trying to destroy shit. Sure a few buildings are destroyed along the way but it's better than the alternative.
    • Almost invariably in the early seasons, the Monster of the Week would be trashing the Power Rangers, and Rita would declare, "If you think you're having it rough now, wait until you see this!" before making the monster grow to a preposterous size. At this point the Power Rangers would use their cool toys and destroy the monster, every single time. If only Rita had left the monster at its original size, she could have won easily. For that matter, why didn't the Power Rangers just use their giant mechas on the "human-sized" monster? Another thing: every villain in Power Rangers ever has had the ability to teleport at will, anywhere, through walls, and even bring along passengers or cargo. Picture the cataclysmic implications if they were to use this power intelligently. In the Alien Rangers arc of MMPR, Goldar and Rito did just that, only with a bomb of the usual villains' making.
  • In Beetleborgs, a new villain waited until the heroes' base rose out of the ground and then having the monster-planes bomb it while the vehicles were still inside. Though the heroes eventually got new, cooler, vehicles, it was a devastating blow. It also made you wonder why absolutely no-one's ever thought of that before. Which is really strange, because in the rest of the many-parts episode, this monster didn't use savviness. On the contrary, at this point he destroyed all the other weapons playing by the rules, just to show he could do it.
  • Of course, Kamen Rider usually avoids this trope by not using the same "Big Bad sends a minion to defeat the hero each week" format as Super Sentai, but there are exceptions. More recent series (notably Den-O and Kiva) have the villains start using mass produced MotWs as Mooks, but by that point Wataru's gotten his Super Mode and they're no challenge (as seen when Kiva takes out six with a single Finishing Move). Meanwhile, in Kamen Rider Double, the villains of the week don't actually work for the Big Bad, whose plan just requires observing the thugs he's sold powers to, and he is perfectly happy to have Kamen Riders fighting them and getting them to show their true strength.
    • Kamen Rider Wizard has one particularly egregious case. Nitou/Kamen Rider Beast is powered by a Chimera who requires mana to survive lest he consume his host; he gets this by consuming defeated Phantoms. One of the Phantoms and major villains of the series, Phoenix, has the ability to be reborn every time he dies. So naturally, Beast devouring Phoenix would have resolved two problems at once: how to keep Chimera from not devour Nitou AND how to ensure Phoenix wouldn't come back.
    • Kamen Rider Zero-One has one that affects the whole plot. The Big Bad, the Ark, is an AI satellite sitting immobile at the bottom of a lake, unguarded. You'd think it would be easy for our heroes to find where the Ark is and blow it up, since they know it's sunken somewhere in Daybreak Town, but this option is never brought up or even considered. And when they do decide to do something about it, instead of doing that they give it a physical body. Because apparently it having a body makes it easier to destroy it? That's... not what happens.
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation:
    • In the third, fourth, and fifth seasons, more than half of the plots could have been resolved in ten seconds if the characters had chosen not to associate with Jay Hogart. He started off with a bad reputation, yet nobody even gives a second thought above how "cool" they'd look being his friend. What did his victims do when they finally realized he was manipulating them? They glared at him really angrily, and sometimes even spoke harsh words. Some of these kids have beaten each other up because of his tricks, but when they find out the brawl was his fault, they don't even throw a punch at him. However, he does become a semi-helpful member of the cast in the sixth and seventh seasons. He still manages to do the wrong things on several occasions there as well.
    • You'd think after Jay was expelled for being one of the leading causes of the school shooting that people would stop hanging around him, but Alex, Amy, Emma and J.T. still thought he was cool, and just look at what happened to all of them.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. Neelix originally was a competent character. He owned and operated a single-ship, knew the territory, was just ruthless enough to survive, and made his living as a grifter, a pirate, and a salvager. A few episodes later and suddenly he's a useless, obnoxious, egocentric buffoon with the intellect and emotional capacity of a toddler. At his worst, he's gotten several crew members killed and endangered the entire ship on multiple occasions. In one Very Special Episode, he went beyond reckless endangerment and committed bona fide, premeditated treason. Not only does he never earn anything worse than a stern reprimand for the multiple fatalities he causes, he actually gets put in charge of people. Despite not being an officer, or even a member of Starfleet, nor having any noteworthy abilities beyond the sheer gall to appoint himself "morale officer". To top it off while he is in charge his leadership is directly the cause of one death while marooned on an alien planet. All because he has no concept of the buddy system. Even his cooking causes problems.
  • Arrested Development:
    • GOB routinely screws up Michael's plans to save the company, week after week after week, even to the point of undoing what good Michael has achieved. Given how often this occurs, it is surprising that Michael always has a change of heart right after he decides to finally get rid of GOB for good. Indeed, the humor of the series mainly stems from the Hard Truth Aesop that Michael should stop caring about his family, but he is unable to.
    • If only Michael had moved away from his incompetent, irresponsible and immoral family, he wouldn't have to deal with their shenanigans. To his credit, he did try to leave in the beginning of season two. But the SEC was extra suspicious at that point.
    • The Fox run of the show actually ends with the SEC coming after the Bluths again and Michael finally going, "Y'know what? Fuck this." One of the first things in the order of business of the Netflix season was getting Michael back into his family's life.
    • On the other hand, Michael can be just as bad and self-centered as the rest of the Bluths and one of the reasons why he hangs around is because he genuinely gets off on his own feeling of self-importance and needing to be relied on by the rest of the family. Him leaving the family to fend for themselves in order to spend time with his son he previously spent the entire series neglecting is arguably positive character development in the context.
  • Played hilariously straight twice in Robin Hood with the obligatory female Kate, though both times it happened without the writers noticing what they'd done. That this girl is a liability to the team is undeniable; she's constantly getting kidnapped, injured and sabotaging outlaw plans thanks to her reckless stupid behaviour. Therefore, it's rather amusing in the episode "Too Hot to Handle" that Kate is kidnapped (again) while the outlaws are en route to the River Trent. Instead of organising a rescue, they just continue on their way without any attempt made to go after her. Later in "Something Worth Fighting For" she marches off in a huff after being tricked into believing that Robin is cheating on her. Despite the amount of shilling that goes on, nobody seems to care about or even really notice her absence — though luckily she arrives back just in time to completely ruin their successful attempt at a peaceful sit-in protest.
  • Lost thrived on this, which is not surprising considering the connections to Gilligan's Island.
    • All the survivors of 815 had to do was to hold a big meeting and compare notes about this VERY odd island to keep their cool and work more as a cohesive group. This is what the survivors tried to do initially. Except there were people trying to act in the best interests of the group, such as Sayid and co. keeping the French transmission a secret. And then people acting in their own interests, like Kate trying to keep her past a secret or Sawyer making everyone hate him because he's a Jerkass Woobie. And then there's Locke, who... is Locke. Arguably, part of the show's point is that when left to their own devices, people are prone to conflict and self-destruction.
      They come. They fight. They destroy. They corrupt. It always ends the same.
    • Part of the show's point is also that people only come to work together when all threatened by the same thing (Smokey, Others, No-Food/Water/Meds, wtf) but when they ain't, it's every man for himself.
    • Ben has random people kidnapped and murdered at his own whim, manipulates the protagonists continually, and is a flat-out bastard with only a few sympathetic traits (which he is quick to exploit for his own means) is constantly put into scenarios where the protagonists can kill him... and they don't. Every time this happens, it bites them in the ass later.
    • By season six they do stop going along with any plan of Ben's. Anyone who was ever thinking 'Stop listening to Ben!' had to laugh when Sun knocked him unconscious and stole the boat he had led her to, and the last season continued in that vein, with all other characters completely ignoring anything Ben said or wanted to do.
  • Farscape gave Rygel a great many opportunities to prove himself a life-endangering nuisance in the first season: at one point, trying to fool a gang of mercenaries into believing that he still holds a position of authority, he "borrows" a critical part of Moya's circuitry to decorate his sceptre- and almost gets the entire crew killed when the mercenaries kidnap him, sceptre and all. And after almost erasing Moya's data banks in an attempt to get home, releasing a virus on the crew, he eventually goes on to sell out his shipmates to Scorpius... only for the crew to begrudgingly accept his return when the attempted betrayal goes sour. Even the second season took a while to actually transform him into a useful character, revealing that they kept him around solely because while a useless, greedy, selfish idiot under normal circumstances, put him in a situation where intrigue and/or bartering are necessary and he suddenly turns into Prince Kheldar, which is quite handy when your budget closely resembles a shoestring.
  • For some reason, the characters in Keeping Up Appearances never just refuse to do whatever Hyacinth says. When Hyacinth ignores a "No", the characters appear resigned to obey her. It gets turned into a running gag when Emmet tries to coach Liz into refusing coffee with Hyacinthe. She's just. that. SCARY.
  • McHale's Navy: McHale and his men would find themselves at risk of being court-martialed a lot less often if they'd transfer the greedy and conniving Torpedoman's Mate Lester Gruber to a different boat.
  • Merlin:
    • You could make a case for it, but the title character's steadfast refusal to tell anyone about the fact that he has magic has caused more problems than it has solved. In particular, his treatment of Morgana led at least partially to her Face–Heel Turn. Particularly as she likewise discovers she has magic in the second series. Her neck is on the line just as much as his, as it doesn't seem like that Uther would have been merciful.
    • As of Series 5, this has turned into "just kill Morgana". Sure, he can't track her down, but he has so many opportunities to just snap her neck with magic and yet he doesn't. Why? Just... why? She's way beyond redemption by now, and is probably too insane to even be bargained with. And yet in "Another's Sorrow", he doesn't even kill her when she's strangling him, even though his life is in danger and it would be painfully easy for him to explode her head. You could say that he still feels sorry for her, but he doesn't seem to have any problem with attempting to kill Mordred, who is an In-Universe Designated Villain. Killing Morgana might actually be explained in the finale as it's established there (and no earlier), that Morgana is really hard to kill.
    • Merlin is screwed either way. No matter if he decides to ignore fate and help Morgana or Mordred or if he tries to avoid it and by killing either one of them, the result is always the worst possible outcome. The real useless character is the dragon, because Merlin fares way better whenever he makes his decisions without being influenced by him or any other kind of prophecy. As soon as he knows what will come, he is doomed.
  • Revenge revolves around Emily Thorne's quest to take down the Grayson family and exonerate her framed father. This is something she easily could have accomplished in the first season as Emily effortlessly bugs Grayson manor and quickly collects a dossier of incriminating video evidence. But instead of simply turning this over to the police or public, Emily throws the laptop full of evidence into the ocean claiming that it was a "distraction". She then proceeds to execute an elaborate 3-year-long plan where she seduces Daniel Grayson, marries into his family and attempts to frame Victoria for her faked murder. Over the course of this plan she loses her best friend, her lover's brother, her fiance and her ability to bear children, all at the hands of the Graysons. Her eventual takedown of the Graysons only takes one episode and involves a fairly simple Engineered Public Confession, raising the question of why she didn't just do this to begin with.
  • In Game of Thrones, after Daenerys conquers the cities of Slaver’s Bay and frees the slaves, an elderly freedman asks her to let him voluntarily sell himself back to his old master, since he was well treated in the household as a tutor to his master’s children, and his life as a homeless unemployed freedman is materially worse then his life as a slave. He also states that there are many former slaves who feel the same way he does. This is intended to show that a charismatic leader cannot resolve structural societal ills overnight, that there are no easy solutions to complex problems, and that Dany’s idealism and good intentions may need to be compromised to keep society running smoothly. The idea that the man and people like him could simply work for pay with some legal protections, particularly the right to leave their current employers if they choose, is never considered or even mentioned.
    • Heck, even without pay. If the idea of a wage is too advance for a medieval-like society, fine. But there's feudalism. Not good for our standards but much better than slavery. There's a documentary series hosted by Terry Jones on how Feudalism wasn't really as nasty as modern audiences understand it and if fact was a win/win situation for everyone involved for the conditions of the time. The surprising part if that Daenerys actually comes from a Feudal society, and even if she was too young to remember she seems to be well informed about the country she pretends to rule.
  • Mission: Impossible actually has this inverted. Whenever there seems to be an easier, alternate way to accomplish the goal for the episode, one of the characters will bring it up in the pre-mission briefing and then an explanation as to why that can't work is given. (In "Trial By Fury," where the mission is to re-establish a convict's good name in a prison so he can continue to serve as liaison for another prisoner who's the face of his country's democracy movement, Barney asks why they can't just free them both; Phelps replies that they both know they're of far more value where they are.) In fact, the standing reason why the Impossible Mission Force can't just assassinate targets (which is obviously much easier than the convoluted schemes on the show) is because of a "policy decision" on behalf of the higher-ups in the United States.
  • Dennis the Menace. Mr. Wilson's life would be much better if the Mitchells would move away. The worst part is that the man knows this, and his warnings to the other characters are tragically ignored. An episode of the animated series dealt with this. Dennis breaks Mr. Wilson's window and he boards it up, and tells Dennis to just pretend that he has moved away from now on, in an attempt to get some peace. A pair of movers show up, having gotten lost while on their way to move an entire house, and ask Dennis if he knows anyone who is moving. Dennis points them toward Mr. Wilson's house, and they take the boarded up window as a sign that he is right. They lift the entire home onto a truck and take it away, with Mr. Wilson trying desperately to stop them. Eventually his house ends up in a nice coastal area, and he realizes that not only is his new location better, but no Dennis. But the movers figure out their mistake and take the house back over his protests.
  • Legends of Tomorrow perhaps has it worse than other Arrowverse shows, due to being a Spiritual Successor to Doctor Who. While there are stated limits as to the team’s ability to change history with the Waverider, such as sometimes being unable to interfere with events they were already a part of and certain events being fated to happen, character deaths tend to have this. Rip Hunter’s entire arc in the first season is wanting to save his family by preventing Vandal Savage’s rise to power, and later moving on. It’s never explained why he can’t just resurrect them by taking the Waverider back to pick them up before Savage killed them (presumably at a point where Past!Rip wasn’t with them). And when Laurel dies in Arrow, Rip explains that he deliberately dropped them off after the events of season 4 of Arrow because if Sarah was with Laurel at the time, she, Laurel, and their father would all be fated to die (and presumably taking Laurel with them wasn’t an option). But because there was a significant interval between Laurel being mortally wounded and dying, and the Waverider is established to have advanced medical technolgy, why not pick Laurel up and heal her right after she’s been stabbed and Darkh has left? Strangely, this is exactly what Prometheus and Black Siren trick Team Arrow into thinking happened at the beginning of Arrow’s 5th season.
  • In Survivor, several seasons had people shouting, "Just vote out x!" at their TVs. Especially recent seasons, wherein players seemed to have become afraid to rock the boat and try taking control of their alliances and vote out the designated "leader".
    • All-Stars: By the time that Chaboga Mogo realizes that Rob and Amber have no intention of bringing them to the final Tribal Council, they're down to four people and Rob is still carrying the Immunity Necklace. This comes after Rob has repeatedly told the other members of the group that he won't break his alliance/relationship with Amber for any reason. This later leads to a series of "Reason You Suck" speeches at the final Tribal Council ... which rings hollow once the contestants realized that Rob proposed to her and that the engaged couple would win either way.
    • Redemption Island would have had a very different outcome if the Ometepes realized Rob was too dangerous to be allowed to run the game. Especially jarring considering the very first tribal council, Kristina reveals she has the idol meaning that Rob doesn't, and has a very big sign reading, "Vote me out" on his face. Unsurprisingly, he wound up winning.
    • South Pacific. Did it simply never occur to the Savaiis that they probably should have voted out Cochran? Especially after all they did to him?
    • One World. Viewers very quickly began to expect that everyone would just let Colton walk all over everybody. He did- until he was medevaced.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Season Four has a particularly annoying example. Xander hands Buffy a flare gun, and she replies "We're fighting vampires, not signaling ships at sea". The characters haven't had a problem with using flaming arrows to great effect on vampires, so why wouldn't a flare gun be just as effective? She uses it later which obscures the vision of her enemies, but seriously, a flare gun would be a great weapon against any vampire. A big incendiary projectile.
    • Season Five established a) Glory can't leave this dimension without The Key. b) The key has been incarnated as Dawn, written into the timeline as Buffy's sister, c) Glory is much stronger that Buffy, and will stop at nothing to get The Key, d) Willow has the ability to send living beings to other dimensions (though admittedly her ability to choose a specific dimension is in question), and e) Buffy knows she can't take Glory head-on, so she chooses to take Dawn and run, presumably for the rest of their lives. The idea that Willow could have just sent Dawn (and probably Buffy in order to protect her) to another dimension and thus trap Glory here forever is never brought up. Glory has to do her thing in Sunnydale, on a specific date, after which (as far as we can tell) the Key is useless. So why not ship Dawn off to France for a few months? There's no indication that Glory can track her.
    • Season Seven would have had far less complications ensue in the second half of the season had the main characters invented some kind of mandatory "touch" system where they would have to make regular physical contact with each other to see if everyone present was corporeal. The First Evil caused so many problems by imitating other characters (but is incorporeal) that it seems odd that no system is invented to regularly verify that everyone there is really who they say they are. In their defense, The First didn't actually trick them this way all that many times. It could only imitate dead people, so besides Buffy and Spike, it could only trick people with a form that had died recently without anyone knowing about it. Most of the time the people it was talking to were well aware it wasn't their dead friend they were talking to, but the First just used the forms to mess with their heads.
    • For a villainous example, why there aren't more villains that simply find out where Buffy lives and dealing with her there. This is lampshaded in Season Six when the villain Warren simply gives her address to a monster to deal with her, and later visits her house and shoots her there. Probably the most problematic is in Season Seven, when the First Evil's minion Caleb has killed all of the Watcher's Council using a bomb, later kills MORE Slayer Potentials using a different bomb, simply never bombs Buffy's house where she and all of her army are living.
    • Slayers rarely ever use fire when hunting vampires, despite it proving one of their greatest weaknesses, even to the oldest and strongest vampires? Particularly noticeable with the introduction of the Turok-Han, the uber-vampires from Season Seven who prove more resistant to stakes and holy water, are not affected by crosses and do not need invitations to enter homes. Yet at no point does anyone suggest the possibility of testing their resistance to fire?
    • In Season 9, Andrew had set up a Deus ex Machina to deal with Simone: it involved creating another Buffybot, getting the real Buffy stoned, putting Buffy's mind in the bot (and making her think she's pregnant), then setting up the real Buffy with the bot's brain to think it lives a different life in a suburban home Andrew had set up, so when the assassin strikes, bot!Buffy might be ready for it, maybe, possibly. Andrew being Andrew, he was being far too clever for his own good; a much simpler solution would have been to use the bot to lure out Simone.
  • Sort of a meta example for Growing Pains, but after Kirk Cameron became a born-again Christian, everyone else in the cast suffered for it (see #2 in this article). The simple solution would've been to write off (or more cathartically, kill off) Cameron's character or replace the actor with a less religiously zealous one. But that thought apparently never occurred to anyone when other cast members were kicked off because Cameron thought they were too "sinful". Well, as the Cracked article states: Cameron was the teenage heartthrob whose face was on the cover of Tiger Beat. Kirk Cameron made ABC money.
  • Last Resort:
    • Sainte Marina's resident gang leader, Serrat, causes so much trouble for the Colorado sailors (particularly through manipulative actions, such as in the episode "Big Chicken Dinner" where he successfully gets a sailor correctly accused of rape found not guilty so the islanders will get angry and riot in protest against the sailors) that one has to wonder how he hasn't been summarily executed by now. Then again, the sailors (especially Captain Chaplin) seem to be trying to keep up a reputation of honor and justice - also particularly noticeable in "Big Chicken Dinner."
    • That's not even the half of it. He kidnapped three sailors and used them as hostages to get the Colorado to run a blockade. When they are late, he murders one of the sailors and it is implied that he rapes another (she later disclaims this, but the rest of the crew doesn't know that). He participates in the CIA strike team raid, helping them poison everyone, which leads to two more sailors' deaths. He then straps a bomb vest to another sailor, which King barely defuses, then halfheartedly offers up a scapegoat. Then he starts selling drugs to the sailors, and tortures the COB when he tries to intervene. It would be justified if the islanders loved him, but they don't, they know he's an exploitative thug. It could also be justified if he was well-protected, but he isn't; King and another SEAL sneak right into his living room without difficulty. He's just wearing Plot Armor.
  • Just about any series (Family Matters, Three's Company, etc.) with an "Annoying Next Door Neighbor." If said neighbor's constant presence bothers the family, then why don't they just lock their doors and/or get a restraining order?
  • Early in Breaking Bad, Walter White is offered a job with excellent health insurance by a wealthy friend. Of course, his Fatal Flaw is pride, so he rejects this "charity" out of hand, but if he'd simply accepted with good grace, it would have been a very short show. His pride continues to be a crippling problem for the rest of the series.
    • It's implied that a similar incident made him abandon his research and become a low-paid science teacher in the first place. Heisenberg's meth trade may be new, but Walt's anger issues have always been there.
    • The same friend also offers to pay for Walt's treatment in full. If Walt's true motivation really was paying for his treatment and not leaving his family in debt, as he claimed it was, he would have been an idiot to say no. It isn't until the finale that he admits that he enjoyed cooking meth for its own sake.
  • Earth: Final Conflict has the alien Zo'or as the primary antagonist, meaning their death would end much of the show's conflict and as a result, numerous opportunities that would allow Zo'or's death or assassination by the resistance are prevented by Contrived Coincidences and Idiot Balls.
  • The Middle has two such problems:
    • It's hardly suggested that Frankie would be a little less stressed out if Mike would offer to take up some of her duties or if she would call him out for just staying out of the way. Then again, it also depending on the issue as Both Sides Have a Point about Frankie worrying about things she shouldn't and expecting quick fixes, and there are times Mike has helped out.
    • It's also never suggested that the problems with the resident bad family, the Glossners, would be solved if someone would just call the police or social services and report them. The closest is Rita herself threatening to do so to Frankie after the latter notices a bunch of stolen stuff in the family's garage.
  • In Falling Skies, Pope has caused a lot of trouble to the 2nd Mass, and has mostly been the The Load or The Millstone to the resistance, and is a leader to a group of killers. You have to wonder why they even put up with him for 5 seasons, rather than just shooting him for insubordination, or at least leaving him for dead, after he hindered their cause so many times.
  • Most of the problems caused in almost every episode of El Chavo del ocho could be avoided if the eponymous Chavo didn't screw something up with Don Ramon and Señor Barriga as the most common victims of Chavo’s thoughtlessness. Worst thing is that Chavo is allowed to live free in Vecindad just because of Señor Barriga’s kindness.
  • One episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit centers around a teenage girl who comes to New York to get an abortion, because the state she's from requires parental consent and her father had previously thrown out her older sister for an unintended pregnancy. She went to the first clinic in the phone book, but the doctor there turns out to be against abortion, and manages to delay her until she's past the legal limit for the procedure; as a result, the girl and her boyfriend end up battering the unborn child to death. But the entire thing would have been avoided if the teens had just gone to a different clinic.
  • In Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills, the bumbling sidekick of the Big Bad gets a chance to be in charge while the villain is away, and implements an ingenious tactic of sending down a monster, recalling it when it was close to death, and sending a new one, repeated until the heroes were worn down and defeated. On the verge of success, the Big Bad returns from his trip and proves that he had a firm grip on the Villain Ball by demanding that things be returned to the proven-to-fail "one monster each week" strategy.
  • In The Beverly Hillbillies, the Clampetts could have used their millions to buy a large farm ranch, like many oil barons in fiction do, instead of moving into a mansion in California. This would mean that they could enjoy their wealth while still living the rural life they were accustomed to and not have to deal with the many Fish out of Water situations they had in Beverly Hills.
    • In truth the only character who hates living in "Californy" is Granny. Jed is bemused by all the strange things he runs into, but he moved them there in the first place because he believed it was the proper place for rich-folk like them to live. There are several cases where they do pack up and move back (and in one case Granny wanted them to move to Hooterville), but always come back because the Status Quo Is God.
  • Stranger Things: Why can't the residents of Hawkins, Indiana take a hint and move as far away from it as possible to avoid all the paranormal and supernatural happenings and to also avoid making any further contact with the Upside Down? That way, the kids wouldn't have to investigate these happenings and wind up in therapy for the rest of their lives. Amusingly enough, at the end of season three, the Byers family and Eleven actually do move out of Hawkins.
  • In House, it's never fully explained why, even as a "oh there'd be phantom pain, oh it'd stop me trying to dress like I'm a guy in my twenties" Hand Wave, he doesn't cut off the leg that causes him almost unending misery to the point of having to admit he's thought about killing himself multiple times cause it hurts so much. House is established to be violently resistant to any semblance of change to his routine, and he's shown dismissing amputation when he's first injured, but that was before he had time to realize how miserable the constant pain and ensuing drug-addiction would make him (and, via Imagine Spots and temporary fixes) how much happier he'd be without it.
  • From the start of Ugly Betty, Wilhelmina is openly plotting to take over Mode and run it herself. She plots, schemes, is behind at least one hostile takeover attempt, fakes a pregnancy, tries to marry Bradford, and actively sabotages others, willing to hurt the magazine as long as she gets to be in charge. Thus, the question is why the hell the Meades haven't shown her the door years ago. The series openly addresses it by pointing out that Wilhelmina is very good at her job and contacts in the fashion world Mode needs. Also, if they were to fire her, any rival magazine will snatch Wilhemina up in an instant. Thus, the Meades figure it's better having Wilhelmina use her talents for them.
  • For Drake & Josh, it's generally "Just Ground Megan", or "Just Take Away Megan's Prank Supplies", or "Just Counter-Prank Megan". Many of the shenanigans Drake and Josh get into could have been avoided had they told their parents of Megan's misdeeds and gotten her punished. Since she acts as a Deliberately Cute Child in front of her parents to remain a Karma Houdini, this is more difficult than it sounds.
  • On One Tree Hill, plenty of the show's characters, especially Lucas, Nathan and Keith, spend much of their time trying to show up or prove themselves to main villain Dan Scott. As obnoxious as he is and as small as a town of Tree Hill is, a logical yet overlooked solution to just cut him off/ignore him; although understandably Lucas wants him to acknowledge him financially and paternally, seeing what a Manipulative Bastard he is and how little he changed over the first four seasons, they would have saved themselves a lot of headaches by choosing to no longer associate with him and his toxicity.

  • Carmen Sandiego: Acme Crime Labs has near-alien technology at their disposal yet every time they catch Carmen she winds up in a Cardboard Prison that she easily escapes from for her next caper, or (half the time) she escapes and they don't bother going after her. However, Acme's agents never once think about taking the (quite drastic) approach of putting a bullet in her brain while she's trying to get away (as with the Hulk example in Western Animation, sniper rifles were invented to kill people that would be too dangerous to approach directly, or in this case, cannot be stopped easily, so Carmen probably qualifies). However, the franchise does run on the MST3K Mantra due to much of the media in it being edutainment material, so it's justified somewhat.
  • Horrid Henry: It's very likely that Henry's Mum and Dad wouldn't have to deal with Henry's bad behaviour if they just used a different type of discipline instead of yelling at him and sending him to his room or if they just hired a nanny.

  • "Weird Al" Yankovic lampshades this when singing about Gilligan in "Isle Thing"
    He messed up every rescue
    Man, that first mate was illing
    If I were one of them castaways
    I think I'd probably kill him

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Eric Young spent weeks trying to convince Joseph Park that he and his masked brother Abyss were the same person. He could have just got him to remove his shirt, revealing the distinctive mix of tattoos and scars that cover Abyss's arms. It is a case of Fridge Logic that Park apparently never noticed or thought about the tattoos himself.

  • The Reduced Shakespeare Radio Show manages to apply this to the bard himself, in the opening scene of Romeo and Juliet, when the Prince breaks up a brawl between the Capulets and Montagues:
    Prince: Desist! Desist, I say!
    Sampson: But then there'd be no play.
    Prince: Oh. Carry on, then.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • The Pokémon franchise has been on-and-off about all this. Sure, its kid-friendly status prevents the player trainer from being outright murdered on-screen (Ardos' plan to blow up Citadark Isle is rejected by Greevil, while N stops Ghetsis from freezing them), but Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness is the only instance in the games where the player trainer is directly attacked with no interruption (in this case, Wakin puts Michael to sleep and jacks the Snag Machine while he's out cold). This begs the question of why TPC doesn't push further into Pokemon-on-trainer violence more often...
    • Speaking of Ghetsis, no reason is given for why he didn't try to freeze the player again after dealing with N's dragon. Instead he allows the player to take Kyurem on in a fair battle, leading to his very downfall...
  • In Double Homework, when the protagonist’s friends were planning the yacht party, some of them wanted to exclude Henry from the plans because they were afraid that he couldn’t keep it a secret from the protagonist. They were right.
  • It's been said that the quickest way to "win" The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is to obtain the first Plot Coupon and then turn the game off. If a villain needs three MacGuffins to make their evil plan work and the hero has obtained one, there's usually no real reason to go after the others and every reason not to (granted, if Link isn't doing anything, Ganondorf can easily kill him and take the stone. That's not to mention the whole "destiny" thing). In fact, Word of God states that in the "Child" Timeline (the one Link is sent back to at the end of Ocarina), this is exactly how Zelda and Link keep Ganondorf from invading the Sacred Realm.
  • Villainous example: In Mega Man Battle Network, it takes the villains until the second-to-last non-postgame cut scene in the series to realize that three adults taking on Kid Hero Lan in real life is a better idea than taking on MegaMan in cyberspace. Only BubbleMan uses a dangerous machine with no access ports. This prevents anyone from getting their Navis in and hacking the machine to stop. BubbleMan's plan failed because defeating him also shuts down the machines. But the clear point remains, the ONLY way the majority of the cast can combat the bad guys is by sending Navis into their machines, so if the villains just used machines with no access ports, or used more real world obstacles, the heroes would be powerless to stop them. Lan isn't even armed, defeating him in person is literally as easy as walking over and subduing a school kid.
    • Even the heroic characters are kind of stupid. The crowning achievement is the third game. The plot revolves around the bad guys trying to obtain a Digital Abomination computer program that was sealed away by four keys. Why the authorities don't just delete the keys or put the program on a server and then physically destroy the server is never explained. note 
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • If RED stopped building railway tracks leading from their base to the BLU base, it would be harder to blow up their base. Their reasoning is that they want to send a cart of their own to blow up the BLU base. Further parodied in the "Mann vs. Machine" update, where waves of robots are able to blow up Mann Co.'s bases due to giant bomb holes in the ground. The update comics say they're rethinking that particular policy.
    • Why the Demoman doesn't just have the Medic, a Mad Scientist who can raise people from the dead and has put a baboon uterus in a grown man while he was under, grow him a new eye is explained in one comic: Medic has grown his eye back several times, but every Halloween it comes to life like his first eye, indicating that his eye socket itself is haunted and any further attempts will end the same way.
  • The plots of Grand Theft Auto IV and its expansion The Ballad of Gay Tony would be enormously shorter if the main characters were allowed to use the massive amounts of money they earn to just pay off the debts of the characters they are protecting. By about the middle of IV specifically, Niko can easily be sitting on over a quarter million dollars but you'll still be doing missions for loan sharks that Roman owes money to without the option of just paying them off. This wouldn't solve all the problems but it would make them much more manageable.
    • Similarly, the plot of Grand Theft Auto V would be much shorter if the player characters were allowed to just kill all the various antagonists that blackmail them right away, instead of being forced to wait until the final mission.
    • Ditto for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. CJ could have solved a lot of problems for himself and Grove Street if he just capped Tenpenny and the rest of C.R.A.S.H. at the first chance he got (like what he can do to all the other cops in normal gameplay) rather than let them blackmail him with a cop killing he didn't do.
  • The plot of Higurashi: When They Cry could have been solved very quickly, although the cast can be forgiven for not realizing it under the circumstances. It takes six full rounds of them slaughtering each other before they realize, halfway through the seventh round, that none of it would happen if they'd just trust each other for once. When they start the eighth story with this information and work together from the start, it becomes a Curb-Stomp Battle against the true enemies. It also doesn't help that there's a vicious Hate Plague at work, which makes cooperation quite a bit harder.
  • In the first Spyro the Dragon game, you rescue around eighty full-grown dragons. Most of them give you some helpful advice, sure, but why don't any of them help you fight Gnasty? Because the dragons you rescue in Gnasty's World are dragons you freed previously, there is an implication that if the dragons helped fight him, they'd just be encased in crystal again, but nothing is outright stated. The sequels at least give reasons for it, e.g. in Gateway to Glimmer/Ripto's Rage, Spyro's the only dragon available to stop Ripto's takeover of Avalar, since there's no actual portals to the Dragon Realm. In Year of the Dragon, he's the only dragon who can fit through the small hole left by the intruders after they stole the dragon eggs.
  • In the HD remake of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater this is lampshaded; killing Ocelot gets you the "Problem Solved, Series Over" trophy.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword deserves some kind of reward for the stupid decision that doesn't just help this game's villain, but makes about 85% of all misery in Hyrule ever possible. You spend about a third of the game trying to open a Gate of Time so you can find Zelda, where you learn nothing that Impa or Fi couldn't have just told you. Opening the Gate of Time is mandatory to acquire the Triforce to obliterate the villain in the present by elevating the Master Sword to its full power, but rather than ask the old lady (actually a future version of Impa) to dismiss the gate when you were done with it, the protagonists give Ghirahim the opportunity to haul Zelda through it and revive his master. Had the gate been dismissed on time, the Big Bad would have been obliterated without undue drama and Ganondorf wouldn't be tearing Hyrule a new asshole time and again.
  • Deconstructing this trope is is the entire premise of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Lorule had faced its share of war and strife over its Triforce, just like Hyrule. It grew to such a fever pitch that, in desperation, the Lorulean royal family used their wish to have their Triforce annihilated. The deconstruction? Doing so did stop the wars, but Lorule literally started to crumble in response, reducing it to the miserable state seen during the events of the game. Princess Hilda and Yuga conspired to claim Hyrule's Triforce for their own, but while Hilda sought to restore Lorule, Yuga had other plans. Ravio defected because the two of them had succumbed to the ill desire that had doomed their world in the first place, and had supported Link through his item loaning business to this end. After returning to Hyrule, Zelda realized just how pitiable Lorule had become without its Triforce, and wished upon theirs alongside Link to have it restored.
  • A lot of the problems that occurred in Dead Island could have been avoided if Jin was just left at the church. For context there was no real reason to bring her along, she would have been a lot safer, and she would not have snapped and made things worse.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Justified in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, where one of the partners suggests that they might not want to gather the Crystal Stars (which sealed away the Shadow Queen), in case they got them together only to have the villains steal them to use them to open the door and take over the world, but Frankly says that as the seal on the Thousand-Year Door is weakening over time, they need to use the Crystal Stars in order to seal the Shadow Queen up for good, which would also preclude destroying the stars.
    • Played straight in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga; After Mario and Luigi put the Beanstar back together, they get a message from Bowletta (Bowser possessed by Cackletta), where they want Mario and Luigi to hand the Beanstar over to them at Joke's End in exchange for Princess Peach's freedom. After the message is done, Prince Peasly proposes to use a fake replica of the Beanstar to give to the baddies to trick them without giving up the real deal. Mario and Luigi could've left the real Beanstar at Beanbean Castle for safekeeping, where it belongs, and take only the fake one in the event the villains see through the trick. But they bring both the fake Beanstar and the real Beanstar to Joke's End. Unfortunately, Fawful sees through the trick and knocks out Luigi when he shows the fake Beanstar, and steals the real one from him. Mario then ends up having to resort to dressing Luigi in drag as Peach to trick Bowletta into believing Princess Peach herself was an imposter while Luigi himself is kidnapped in her place.
    • Inverted in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team; when the Pi'illos used the Dark Stone to seal Antasma in the Dream World, Antasma crushed it as he was imprisoned, turning the Pi'illos to stone. Subverted later on when Dreambert tells Peach and Starlow to do the same to the Dream Stone to keep Bowser from wishing on it; they successfully shatter the Dream Stone, but Bowser simply inhales the fragments and goes One-Winged Angel as a result.
  • Subverted in Five Nights at Freddy's. According to the former employee leaving you voice mail messages, the killer animatrons in the game will attack you because they don't know what humans are - they think you're an animatronic endoskeleton without your costume, and will try to force a costume onto you, killing you in the process. At one point he suggests the obvious answer of playing dead, so they think you're an empty costume instead. He quickly thinks better of it, saying that if they think you're an empty costume they'll try to shove a metal endoskeleton inside you, which would be even worse.note 
    • Also invoked and subverted again, with Night 7, the Custom Night. Specifically, if the animatrons are run by an AI, why not just hack them and make them less aggressive? Turns out you can do that and it works, more or less. Still subverted, though, as even setting their AI levels to 0 still doesn't make them harmless, not to mention hacking the bots gets you fired.
    • For that matter, though, if the animatrons are trying to get you because they think you're an endoskeleton without your costume, why not just make a fake costume (or at least a mask) and wear it to trick them? In keeping with the game's tendency to subvert this trope, this becomes a gameplay mechanic in the sequel. The downside is, there are two animatronics the mask doesn't protect you from, and you can't do the things necessary to ward them off if you have the head on.
  • In Leisure Suit Larry 2: Looking for Love (in Several Wrong Places), most of the plot of the game is driven by how Larry has inadvertently acquired a microfilm inside a rare Peruvian Onklunk. While it could be argued that Larry doesn't have any particular reason to ditch the instrument, the player may get frustrated that all these random characters are trying to kill him for a useless item that, in the end, just gets ditched in a jungle without any player input.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica Portable, if Sayaka confesses to Kyousuke that she's a Magical Girl, he'll actually believe her and compose a song for her, thus averting her tragedy in the canon all because she Gave Up Too Soon.
  • A fair amount of problems in Red Dead Redemption II could have been mitigated had Arthur chosen to not rescue Micah from prison early on or had him killed at some point before the end. While it wouldn't have solved all the problems it would make them a lot less worse (as well as preventing the first game from happening)
  • Donkey Kong 64: How do you open the doors to the bosses? By gathering enough bananas and using them to fully fatten a hippopotamus so that a heavy pig on the other side of a teeter-totter can reach the lock and unlock it, of course! As opposed to simply having them switch places on the teeter-totter and have the hippo unlock it.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • In Justice For All, the murderer of the final case hires a professional assassin to kidnap Maya and hold her hostage in order to coerce Phoenix into getting Matt Engarde acquitted. In other words, instead of threatening the prosecution or the judge, he goes after the one person in the court who's job it is to keep him out of jail.
    • In Apollo Justice, one case involves a young boy allegedly killing a man at a concert using a gun with recoil too strong for him to wield without severely injuring himself before dragging the 250 pound corpse to the middle of the stage for no apparent reason and the prosecution puts forth the idea that the teenage boy was able to accomplish all this by secretly being an Interpol agent with the defense never pointing out the ridiculousness of the accusations being presented.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: One of the biggest plot points in the game is that Edelgard and Dimitri's complicated relationship, and Dimitri's rage, are because he thinks Edelgard is the one behind the Tragedy of Duscr, an incident that horrible traumatized him, and has become almost an obssession of his in regards to avenging it. It gets to the point that on all routes, Dimitri would rather risk his life, and his nation, just to try and kill her, and in three of the four routes, he always dies horribly doing so. Despite this, it is made clear Edelgard had nothing to do with it, instead being essentially kidnapped, and yet she never tells Dimitri that, nor does Dimitri ever think about the logic of her being roughly his age, meaning somehow a barely teenager Edelgard somehow could plot an assassination attempt like that. For Dimitri, it at least is understandable he'd not think on that, but nobody ever acknowledges or points this out to Dimitri, to the point that it comes across as a clunky attempt to justify their bitter relationship more than it already can be after the timeskip.

    Web Comics 
  • In Bob and George, this strip tweaks the way that Megaman can teleport, but never goes straight to the robots' lair. He notes in the commentary that this could be justified by something to prevent teleportation, but never is.
  • In Clown Corps, the agents of the titular organization dress as clowns to protect their identities from their many enemies. Detective Soto, a police officer who's heavily critical of the Corps and their insistence of maintaining their clown motif, remarks they could get similar results by just wearing sunglasses.
  • Red String had Reika think she was pregnant after she and Eiji have sex for the first time (with protection). She never says why she thinks she is, for all we know Reika might just think that sex = babies no matter what. Instead of people telling her to go get a pregnancy test or getting one herself, a majority of Chapter 51 is spent with Reika, Eiji and Miharu thinking that she's pregnant and the consequences thereof. We find out that no, she wasn't pregnant at all. Had Reika just sucked up and took a test, all the very unnecessary angst and worry would have been avoided.

    Web Original 
  • Has happened more than a few times in movies that Film Brain has reviewed, leading to his catchphrase, "Why don't they just (insert smarter course of action here)? Oh right, because we wouldn't have a movie!"
  • Many, many video-game creepypastas, such as Sonic.exe, have the protagonist continue playing The Most Dangerous Video Game even after they realize it's haunted. However, nothing is preventing them from stopping, meaning that the player could simply turn the game off and get rid of it.
    • Same goes with many Lost Episode creepypastas, which have the protagonist still sitting through a horrifying lost episode of an old kids' TV show even after they've realized the tape/DVD it's on is haunted. However, nothing prevents them from turning the TV off and then getting rid of the tape/DVD.
      • In particular, "Blue's Clues - No Clues" is one big example. The tape's haunted, it won't eject from the VCR, and it even managed to magically cut the telephone lines. However, nothing's stopping the protagonist and his sisters from turning the VCR off or getting out of the house and going to the police.
  • The series How It Should Have Ended is pretty much dedicated to pointing these out. Examples are The Lord of the Rings (blindfold the eagles and fly them straight from Rivendell into Mordor), Predator (if the Predator doesn't attack unarmed people because it's not good sport, just ditch all the weapons) and Star Wars (don't wait until the Death Star has gone all the way around the planet that the rebel base orbits, just blow up the planet and you'll have a clear shot at the base).
  • This gets lampshaded for an off-screen plotline that happened between Noob and Noob: Le conseil des trois factions. Long time enemies Tenshirock the hacker and Judge Dead the Game Master have decided that if the latter catches the former in-game, both of them retire. A third party made aware of the situation points out that Tenshirock could simply let himself get caught.
  • In RWBY several characters gave up hope (at least temporarily) after learning that Salem has Complete Immortality, and no one has any plan to defeat her. Thing is, even before her immortality was established, we learned of the Maiden Vaults that are effectively pocket dimensions she explicitly cannot open on her own. Later on, it's also heavily implied the vaults were made by the Relic of Creation, who can build almost anything. Incapacitating her long enough to put her in either a vault or a more-secure magical prison wouldn't be easy, but has been proven possible. Not to mention, Semblances such as memory eraser, Mind Control, and power amplification exist, creating a multitude of possibilities for at least neutralizing her.

    Western Animation 
  • The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, and Super Mario World. No one ever thinks to just follow Bowser whenever he invokes Villain: Exit, Stage Left. Likewise, despite the existence of quite a few Reality Warping MacGuffins, anyone who has one tends to suffer from Complexity Addiction and/or Forgot About His Powers.
  • In The Incredible Hulk (1996), the military would invariably show up and ruin everything at the exact moment Bruce Banner was undergoing a procedure that would eliminate the Hulk once and for all. If they wanted to get rid of the Hulk so badly, they could have left him alone. Or simply put a bullet into Banner's brain from a mile away while he's still human. Sniper rifles were invented to kill people that it would be too dangerous to approach directly, Banner probably qualifies.
  • There is not an episode of The Fairly OddParents which couldn't have been solved or averted by creating the standing wish of "always warn me before any wish that might take away my power to make wishes" and then just flat undoing anything left. Of course, both protagonist Timmy and fairy godparent Cosmo are supposed to be idiots (the former because he's ten years old, the latter because it's funny). One episode actually commented on this concept as well as the Trope Namer: the time Timmy wishes that he loses his emotions and after that, has nothing to do but think, he comes to the conclusion that "the reason they couldn't build a boat on Gilligan's Island is because it would end the series...", which is somewhat similar to his situation. And sort of inverted during the Magic Muffin thing:
    Cosmo: Well, Timmy, if you want your muffin back, why don't you just wish for it back?
    Timmy: That's a great idea, Cosmo! I wish I had the muffin back!
    Wanda: We can't do that. You know as well as I do that the muffin's magic is more powerful than we are.
    Cosmo: Well, duh! I was just wondering why he hadn't asked. Explanation 
    (Timmy angrily erases Cosmo's mouth, making him shout muffled gibberish)
  • Wile E. Coyote seems to have the ability and resources available to send away for any sort of gizmo he desires, and have it arrive immediately to aid him in his quest to catch the Road Runner. It never occurs to him to simply order some food.
    • Creator Chuck Jones liked to quote George Santayana's observation, "A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim." Meaning, to Wile E., eating the Road Runner is largely not the point anymore. Indeed, as Cliff Claven pointed out on Cheers, "What he wants is to eat that particular Road Runner. Very existential."
    • Lampshaded in Night Court of all places, with Judge Stone presiding over Wile E. Coyote and telling him that next time he's hungry he should just go to a restaurant or supermarket.
    • In the shorts where Wile E. is pitted against Bugs Bunny, it's made clear that he's in it for the intellectual challenge as much as for a meal. One would assume this is probably the case in the Road Runner shorts as well. Not to mention that, due to his being an Insufferable Geniusnote , being unable to capture a bird would be a blow to his pride, so he refuses to give up.
    • Lampshaded in one of the leftover shorts from the failed pilot Adventures of the Road Runner. Wile E. explains that the reason he compulsively chases the Road Runner is because road runners are the most friggin' delicious things on Earth, including a meat chart with all the flavors of a road runner's various cuts laid out.
    • A Looney Tunes comic book does actually establish that Wile E. gets his food via mail order, and that catching Road Runner is just his hobby.
    • This is hilariously lampshaded in a short in which Wile E. is successful in his attempts to capture the Road Runner. Of course, he's now a comically puny size thanks to Rule of Funny so the Road Runner is much...much bigger than him. Wile E. then points out to the audience that he's absolutely clueless as to what to do next.
    • The heights of Wile E.'s obsession is underscored by the large number of his plans that, had they succeeded, would have destroyed the Road Runner, or at least rendered its carcass inedible.
    • Really one of his main problems is that he keeps buying shoddy products from ACME. Which one episode reveals as being owned and operated by the Road Runner!
    • Spoofed in this strip from the webcomic Sandra and Woo, with Woo the talking raccoon standing in for Wile E Coyote. Woo, upon failing to catch the Road Runner, does the logical thing.
    • Looney Tunes: Back in Action seemed to justify this by revealing that he's some sort of "quality control" product tester/ACME agent.
    • There's also a Cartoon Network commercial that shows him being asked why he keeps using Acme products when they always backfire or blow up on him, to which he says with a sign, "Good line of credit".
    • Deconstructed in the Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy short "Die, Sweet Roadrunner, Die", which shows that were Wile E. Coyote to actually catch the Road Runner, his life would go into a downward spiral because he never considered what he would do after finally catching him.
  • Every episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! has Mystery Inc. looking for clues in order to deduce who the villain is, then they catch him in a trap and unmask him. However, they don't actually reveal who the villain is until after they're unmasked. This means that they could avoid doing an episode's worth of detective work and just build the trap at the episode's beginning to catch the villain. In What's New, Scooby-Doo? they try this for the exact stated reason, and it works! The villain is locked in a jail cell to wait for the police. Then the villain attacks again, and when they check again he's right back in his cell ... because, of course, the mastermind was actually a set of twins and they only caught one. This does not, of course, explain why they never try it again.
  • Over the course of ThunderCats (1985) Mumm-Ra was revealed to have an incredible array of powers and resources at his disposal. If he had used several of these at once instead of one per episode, he could have won. Possibly justified by the risk of over-using powers and rendering himself weakened and easily defeated in the next episode. Also, he's ever-living. If he had been willing to just wait the ThunderCats out, they would have gone extinct in a generation (there's nowhere near enough for a breeding population). Any progress they could have made in freeing the world from his tyranny could easily be undone afterward.
  • Speaking of ThunderCats, every animation where we see heroes wielding swords, guns or every obviously dangerous weapons, shows which also include He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987), G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, etc. Every kid who watched those shows has asked at least once in their lives, "Why don't they simply use their weapons to kill the bad guys?" Or vice versa. The real reason for this is, of course, that the Standards and Practices of the time did not allow such direct violence to be shown on cartoons.
  • Why doesn't Bluto just eat spinach to beat Popeye? There was one cartoon in which they were trying to be hospitalized, and Bluto did indeed eat spinach and beat up Popeye. However, Bluto didn't so much "eat" the spinach as have it forced down his throat by Popeye. At a guess, Bluto hates spinach even more than he hates Popeye, underscored by one cartoon where Bluto invents a powerful herbicide to destroy all of the world's spinach to incapacitate Popeye. Popeye pleads to the audience, and some kid with a grocery bag throws it into the screen. Popeye beats Bluto, and cures all the spinach. The movie at least HandWaves this by implying that it was not that spinach itself had magical power-up properties, but that Popeye's family had long drawn strength from a diet of spinach.
    • Bluto DOES eat the spinach willingly in an attempt to beat Popeye at baseball in "The Twisker Pitcher".
  • Phineas and Ferb: Did it never occur to Candace that there's a more likely chance that her Mom would believe her if she took photos of whatever activity her brothers were taking part in?note 
  • Entire episodes of TaleSpin are often driven by Baloo's incompetence, laziness or audacity, or Rebecca's hardheadedness, blind ambition or naivete. One wonders why Rebecca just doesn't let Baloo run the company instead of her.
    • What could be solved simply with some logical thinking often snowballs into a very big problem. Sometimes Kit or Molly's recklessness or need for adventure complicates matters, too, though not as often as Baloo and Rebecca's character flaws do.
    • Played with in one episode, where Rebecca wins a contest and needs to get her winning entry to a radio station on time to get a large sum, but she's too busy to get it mailed herself. She knows that Baloo is lazy except when something doesn't matter, so she tries to use Reverse Psychology, telling him that she'd appreciate it if he could take care of mailing it out for her, but that it wasn't important. Unfortunately for her, Baloo, already experienced with how much trouble arises from her hardheadedness and blind ambition, figures that her laissez-faire attitude means it really isn't important, so he spends the fare for the letter on himself (after Rebecca said he could keep the change) and sends it via the cheapest possible postage. Cue scramble when both parties realize what they had done.
  • Ulysses Feral from SWAT Kats invokes this for the title heroes' origin; despite clearly being told they had a target lock, his stubborn obsession to be the only one allowed to bring Dark Kat down not only caused the Enforcers to lose the villain (which the aforementioned target lock would've likely prevented), but also forced Jake and Chance into the crash that ended their Enforcer career and began their career as the titular gang. True, there would be no cartoon, but at least they would've been able to bring a dangerous criminal to justice. Even after the incident, Feral insists on fighting against the SWAT Kats and bringing them to "justice", even though it's been shown time and time again the supervillains they deal with are more than the Enforcers can handle, on their own, and other, more reasonable members of his force (like his niece Felina) can see the benefit of allying themselves with them.
  • The Transformers:
    • Good thing the Decepticons never thought of getting rid of Starscream. He's the only reason the Autobots kept surviving, or even woke up in the first place. One time he even saved the cornered Autobots just for the sake of ruining Megatron's plans. Right in front of him, complete with a smug one-liner. The first episode had a scene where he seemed to have the right idea for once (suggesting blowing up the Ark instead of boarding it; the attempted boarding is what leads to the Ark crashing to begin with), but then a Deleted Scene was uncovered years later where Megatron spells out why Starscream's idea was horrible (Megatron knew the Autobots were heading to an energy-rich planet, but didn't know its exact location, hence why he wanted to follow or commandeer their ship, and why blowing them up would be counterproductive to his long-term goals).
    • In the episode referenced in the above example, Megatron did actually say "No, I want to know what [the Autobots] are after." in response to Starscream's hasty and reckless suggestion.
    • There are also times where Starscream points out glaring flaws in Megatron's plans (i.e. the dangerous instability of their latest energy source). Megatron will invariably respond by mocking and insulting him and ignoring his advice, only to be surprised when the plan blows up in his face in exactly the way Starscream predicted. The real solution would be for them to just work together rather than constantly try to one-up each other, then worry about fighting for control after the Autobots are out of the way.
    • Thanks to the extremely varied nature of the franchise and its many continuities, how much this trope applies depends on the series. Sometimes, Megatron does sum up the intellect to kill Starscream; he does so in the movie after one betrayal nearly succeeds, in Transformers: Cyberverse he kills Starscream after the first backstab, and in Transformers: Animated he practically makes killing Starscream a habit. In other series, Megatron has good reason to keep Starscream around, such as wanting an incompetent backstabber as his second-in-command, rather than risk having a competent one who might actually depose him, or feeling that Starscream's skill as an Air Commander makes up for his eccentricities.
  • In Jem, the rival band of Jem and the Holograms (The Misfits) would often indulge in felonies such as kidnapping, blackmail, sabotage, slander and even attempted murder in order to boost their own sales and discredit their opponents. A simple phone call to the police would have seen them locked up for a very long time. Made worse by the fact that Jerrica owns Starlight Music and could probably do a lot more to ensure that Eric Raymond would stop causing trouble as a record executive than a pop idol. Raymond had his own army of lawyers and mega corp resources, plus Pizzazz's wealthy father and all his connections. The pilot episode also stated the reason for the Jem persona in the first place was due to some first-rate legal and financial blackmail Raymond was laying on Starlight Records (he had a stake in the company as Benton's business partner and was trying to screw Jerica and Kimber out of their shares). Worse, most of the Holograms' royalties got folded back into the business and orphanage. Raymond wasn't bothering with side ventures.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987), almost every time Shredder and Krang fail it is because of Bebop and Rocksteady's bumbling. Simply getting rid of the two or at least locking them up would result in far less humiliation for Shredd-Head and Krang.
    • In one episode Krang points out that Shredder firing them is a bad idea, as they don't have a lot of options in the help department for their schemes. Their attempt to solve this problem blows up in their faces.
    • This gets taken to the logical conclusion in Turtles Forever, in which Utrom Shredder, AKA a villain that was besting three separate generations of Turtles as well as fairly powerful allies, has already destroyed entire universes, and is scarily competent... is defeated by their screwing up.
    • Building the universe-conquering superweapon with a working power source would have done it. Given some of the stuff they used to get it temporarily working, it probably could have run at full power on a diesel engine.
  • Nicely subverted in the Squidbillies episode "A Sober Sunday." Early Cuyler spends the episode trying to lift the banning of liquor sales on Sunday, but is unable to do so. At the end of the episode Granny asks why he doesn't just buy his Sunday liquor on Saturday. He throws her in a fire and claims that it's too inconvenient.
  • In Pinky and the Brain, considering how many times he screws them up, if Brain got rid of Pinky or at least kept him as far away from his plans as he could manage, he'd rule the world within a week, if that.
    • It would seem so - but in "That Smarts," Pinky becomes as intelligent as Brain, to the delight of the latter... until a) Pinky starts indicating flaws in every single planet-conquering scheme and b) Brain realizes that the only way any of his plans will succeed is if one of them is an idiot. So he makes himself as "smart" (i.e. as stupid) as Pinky normally is... unfortunately, Pinky's seen how miserable Brain is now that the balance of power has shifted, and he makes himself as stupid as he was before! Needless to say, this doesn't stick for the rest of the series.
    • It's been established in several episodes that Brain's plans are precisely what keeps them from succeeding. Pinky has come extremely close several times just by doing all the random things that come naturally to him, only for Brain to ruin it when he tries to use their position of power to his advantage for one of his schemes. Then there's the time they took a night off, and unknowingly ended up with a large group of people who wanted to find Brain and put him in charge. Basically, they'd rule the world already if they didn't keep trying to force it.
  • The subplot in one Kim Possible episode involved the characters being assigned lab partners for a school science project (and Mr. Barkin wouldn't allow them to switch). Kim is paired with a genius scientist who neither needs nor wants her help, and as a result Kim is left bored and unsatisfied because she has nothing to do. Kim's friend Monique is paired with Ron, and she is over-stressed because Ron just doesn't care and leaves her to do all the work herself. Kim and Monique could have simply worked together on Monique's project unofficially (most of the project seemed to take place outside of school) and that way all four parties would have got a decent grade and a workload that suited them. Of course if Mr. Barkin ever found out, this would likely result in 4 F's given the stern way he implied that any requests for a new partner would be turned down.
  • Justice League:
    • The episode "A Knight of Shadows" has the heroes trying to keep the Philosopher's Stone away from Morgan Le Fay. When they acquire it, they lock it in the Watchtower—and it ends up being stolen. The story concludes with the stone being crushed to dust—which raises the question of why they bothered to lock it in the Watchtower in the first place. Partially justified in that Martian Manhunter is the one crushing it - it could be protected against earthly threat, or he could be using strength greater than Superman's; the League also didn't have any way to know if it would explode upon being destroyed.
    • Similarly in "Paradise Lost", where the League are forced to retrieve three artifacts that combine into the key that can free the Sealed Evil in a Can. In this case, the League can't destroy the key before the end of the episode, because there are lives at stake, but why didn't the people who locked him up in the first place destroy the key instead of just breaking it into three easily-recombinable pieces?
    • Also in the Static Shock JL crossover, with the League keeping the last piece of Brainiac in the Watchtower. Batman even lampshades the fact that they'd be better off with it destroyed, but why it's kept intact goes unexplained. Naturally, it gets loose mere minutes later.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: Numbuh 13 is The Friend Nobody Likes within the organization because he's The Jinx and a Walking Disaster Area in the vein of Steve Urkel and Douglas Fackler. No less than four episodes revolve around his epic capacity to cause chaos with his stupid yet well-meaning bumbling (one of which even ends with the kids in Sector Five leaving him with the enemy the moment they discover that the "kidnapped agent" they were assigned to save is him knowing that this is far worse than anything they could do themselves) and when the KND hold an election for their new leader (by way of a game of tag), everybody gangs up to take out Numbuh 13 because as much as nobody wants the job, nobody wants him in charge even more. Why the hell he hasn't been decommissioned is never explained.
  • In Josie and the Pussycats you have to wonder why do they even put up with Alexandra, who is nothing more but The Millstone to the group. In their outer space series they could have gotten home if they had just pushed her out the airlock or left her on the next planet they landed.
  • One of the criticisms from Bronycon 2013 while watching the first of the My Little Pony TV Specials is a case of this. Tirek's plan is to use his Rainbow of Darkness to turn ponies into demonic dragons to drive his Chariot of Darkness to cause The Night That Never Ends, even though the Rainbow of Darkness can also turn non-sentient animals such as butterflies and birds into dragons that appear more than capable of driving the chariot. There was no particular reason why Tirek needs ponies-turned-dragons to drive his chariot; if he stuck to the dragons resulting from other animals, he wouldn't have to deal with the surviving ponies at his doorstep who wound up killing him during the rescue of their friends.
  • Family Guy:
    • Anyone who's watched the show for so long can tell you that many conflicts in many episodes are started by Peter's anti-social behavior, lack of intelligence or any kind of common sense, or straight up recklessness. One episode parodying Home Alone actually contains a scene where Lois calls out Peter for all of his meddling interfering with her getting home to her child. Outside from that, Peter's incompetence is rarely, if ever, brought into question.
    • There was, of course, the episode "Seahorse Seashell Party" with Meg finally giving it to Peter with both barrels about what a shitty father and overall person he really is. She then has to sit back and accept her role as the family's Bully Magnet because without her to act as a "lightning rod", the Griffins would turn their horribleness on each other and escalate to the point of mutual death.
  • Tom and Jerry: Tom chooses to eliminate Jerry by simply hiring an exterminator to kill him, instead of futilely chasing him. Tom actually does hire an exterminator (Butch) to help him get rid of Jerry in at least one short. The result is not only Jerry outsmarting both of them, but Tom's constant bumbling of Butch's plans angering the latter so much that he starts trying to exterminate Tom by the episode's end.
  • Adam Lyon from My Gym Partner's a Monkey is accidentally placed in a school for talking animals thanks to a typo that is never fixed (plus, it's never stated if the person who made the typo that got Adam stuck in the talking animal school was fired for their screwup or not). The Animas special implies he could go back to human school, but chooses not to, a fact that is lampshaded by Windsor. Also, one wonders why the school district doesn't fix the typo since it would be easy as hell to do so.
  • A lot of the time in The Dreamstone, it seems most of the Urpneys would have quite gladly accepted being liberated by the heroes. At least one episode also shows the Wut army could very easily neutralise Zordrak in battle. As such most episodes revolve around the heroes dishing out Disproportionate Retribution to only the Urpneys and sending them back to begin another scheme. Similarly, the Wuts and the Dream Maker would remain dormant or Forget About Their Powers until the final climax, always sending the more fallible Noops to fumble for the first twenty minutes of the episode. Or the heroes could Take a Third Option and kill Zordrak by leading him into a trap or something.
  • The Smurfs:
    • Papa Smurf's constant willingness to help Gargamel whenever his life is in danger due to his own bungling tends to be the reason he caused them so much grief over the years. Simply leaving him to his fate after he messed up would have saved them a world of trouble.
    • Then there's Brainy Smurf, whose incredible ego turns himself into The Millstone which often wrecks the village. The worst cases were "King Smurf", where he caused the Smurfs to erupt into a civil war with each other (animated series only) and "The Gingerbread Smurfs", where he created the living cookies without knowing how to get rid of them (and being dumb enough not to simply extinguish the oven and stop them from coming). He's always forgiven with little more than a scolding and is still Papa Smurf's apprentice.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of Ed, Edd n Eddy. After being locked out of Ed's house by Sarah, the Eds begin to scour the entire Cul-de-sac for somewhere they can watch the Monster Movie Marathon. Cue this exchange.
    Edd: We could just go to our house, Eddy.
    Eddy: What? And ruin the plot?
    • And throughout the series, it never occurs to the Edds that they could raise money by washing cars or something instead of creating all sorts of scams running on No OSHA Compliance just to earn money for some jawbreakers.
  • A lot of the problems in Griffin Rock on Transformers: Rescue Bots can be traced back to two people: news reporter Huxley Prescott and Mayor H.B. Luskey. The severity of some of their screw-ups is grounds enough to impeach/recall/vote out the latter and hull the both of them up on charges — yet no one ever does so, despite one of the heroes being the chief of police. In season 4, the citizens of Griffin Rock learn the truth about the Rescue Bots and Chase decides to run against Luskey and actually wins, only for Chase's personality quirks to screw things up, leading Chase to resign and Luskey to resume his role as mayor.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM):
    • The Freedom Fighters constantly take Antoine along on missions. Compared to powerhouses such as Bunnie or Dulcy, who are only nominally used, Antoine is The Load and often screws up missions via his clumsiness. The glaring aspect of this is that it is implied to be Sally, the Straight Man of the group, that insists on bringing Antoine along, compared to Sonic who loathes Antoine and often lampshades his incompetence.
    • Sonic never takes the opportunity to kill or capture Robotnik after his defeat, despite the heroes' whole goal being to actually overthrow him. At one point Sonic even handily invades his lair and gives him a Curbstomp Battle solely as a distraction, despite it being an ideal opportunity to take him in. Ironically Antoine actually did try to capture Robotnik once, though he was obviously outmatched.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars, like the movies, has some moments of the characters being doofuses when it comes to solving problems.
    • In the second episode of Season 2, "Cargo of Doom", Cad Bane captures Ahsoka, and uses her as leverage to get Anakin to open a holocron he stole in the previous episode. Anakin could've pulled an I Surrender, Suckers moment on Cad Bane and pretend he's going to unlock the holocron, but not do it all, and instead use the Force to grab both his lightsaber and Ahsoka's while Bane is distracted by the holocron being levitated by the Force, kick Bane's butt, and save Ahsoka, AND prevent the holocron information from being unlocked, instead of playing it all real and opening it for him like he does in the actual episode before he attempts the lightsaber thing, which enables Bane to start kidnapping Force-sensitive infants in the next episode.
    • In "Voyage of Temptation", when Obi-Wan finally finds Tal Merrick, who kidnapped the Duchess of Mandalore, Satine, he demands that Merrick surrender and release the duchess. Sen. Merrick then shows that he holds a remote detonator, and has set explosives on the ship. One press of a button, and everybody on it is blown to kingdom come. Obi-Wan never thinks of using the Force to pull the detonator out of Merrick's hand, which could've made saving Satine a LOT easier, and just follows Merrick (who still holds the detonator and is still holding Satine hostage) back to one of the droid deployers, where he plans to get off the Coronet, and does NOTHING about stopping him from blowing up the ship! And even Satine steps on Merrick's corn to get free from him and steals his blaster, when Merrick taunts them about the cons of either Obi-Wan or Satine killing him will tarnish their reputations, Obi-Wan still doesn't think of using the Force to pull the remote out of his hand. It's up to Anakin to resolve the situation, which he does do in the simplest and most direct manner by casually stabbing Merrick through the back with his lightsaber mid-monologue.
  • Villainous example in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Considering that Twilight was able to block Discord's magic near the end of Season 2's premiere, there's no reason for the Mane Six to not use Anti-Magic on the other villains as well, since the villains rely exclusively on their magic.
  • Virtually every episode of Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes involves a catastrophe either A. started when Reed Richards' latest invention malfunctions, B. triggered by Johnny Storm's stupidity, or C. set off when Johnny Storm's stupidity causes Reed Richards' latest invention to malfunction. Yes, it shows how the Fantastic Four aren't superheroes, but a superpowered family who gets into trouble, but it still applies.
  • Thomas & Friends: Several plots (especially in the later seasons) could have been avoided had the engines done their jobs correctly... or if Sir Topham Hatt just simply imported some new staff from the mainland instead of using the incompetent people he has piloting his engines.
  • Wunschpunsch: With Bubonic and Tyrannia's spells caused by the Wunschpunsch constantly broken, Maledictus T. Maggot doesn't realize that firing them is easier than repeatedly punishing them each time they fail (then again, George Jetson Job Security might be in effect).
  • Wacky Races: With all of his cheating attempts constantly failing, one wonders why Dick Dastardly just doesn't try racing fairly, or better yet, quit the Wacky Races for good.
  • Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines suffers from a worser example of this trope than Wacky Races: the Vulture Squadron destroyed 182 planes, 2 balloons, 1 ship, 1 Zeppelin, 1 gas station and 1 train throughout their quest to "Stop the Pigeon" but never caught Yankee Doodle Pigeon. It never occurs to Dick Distardly that he could just shoot Yankee Doodle to bits with a gun-equipped fighter plane.
  • Sonic Underground: Most of the events could have been avoided had Queen Aleena ignored the Oracle's words and then had Robotnik killed before he could try to remove her from the throne (hence all "the Oracle is the actual villain" WMG theories).
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Plankton would be better off creating his own burger instead of constantly trying to steal the Krabby Patty Secret Formula. Or better yet, close the Chum Bucket and take up a different profession.
      • He managed to create an AI from scratch. He could be a respected computer scientist with no extra trouble at all.
    • Plankton could also just get someone to secretly buy him a Krabby Patty instead of trying to steal it.
      • Or he could take an unfinished Krabby Patty from the trash in the Krusty Krab dumpster.
    • In the episode "The Algae's Always Greener", Plankton creates a machine that puts him in a reality where he owns the Krusty Krab. Rather than use the opportunity to learn the secret formula completely unopposed, he instead chooses to just bask in the glory of owning a successful restaurant.
    • Ms. Puff swore to herself when she opened her boating school that she would never give up on a student, ever. As a result, Spongebob has remained a constant thorn at her side because he not only Drives Like Crazy but he becomes a titanic Walking Disaster Area every time he sits behind a wheel and it has driven her so far up the wall with the misfortunes he's forced her to endure that she has become physically ill from all the stress and she has actually tried to kill him repeatedly in order to try to get rid of him. By this point, it's pretty clear that she probably would have a better life if she made an exception to her promise, just this once, and kicked him out of her school.
    • Another idea would be to simply have her confess to Spongebob that she hates him. If she sincerely tried to kill him, you'd think she'd at least do something to try to hurt his feelings.
    • If Squidward hates his job at the Krusty Krab, hates his two neighbors even more, and openly admits to hating everyone in Bikini Bottom, why couldn’t he just move out of Bikini Bottom to go someplace else? He tried this in "Squidville", but ended up getting bored and moving back by the episode's end.
  • A common criticism of Shadow Raiders revolves around how our heroes try to destroy the Beast Planet... constantly. It never works as the Beast is (supposedly) indestructible. The show would have been over quicker had our heroes just simply done something like going inside the Beast Planet without getting killed and looking for some way to destroy it from the inside, or had simply killed the Beast Generals, thus causing some sort of link to the Beast Planet to be taken away and cause it to stop working. Hell, Robbie Rotten defeated it easily with only a curtain.
  • In Regular Show, Benson would really save himself an awful lot of headaches (and risking of life, limb, reputation and sanity) if he followed through with his constant threatening to fire Mordecai and Rigby and actually did it. Even when several episodes show that everybody else in the cast is capable of pulling off a faux-pas that causes absurd and apocalyptic chaos just as well as those two (and thus they need to save the day), from a strictly statistical point of view it would have been much safer.
  • Many plots in Hurricanes could have been avoided had Amanda and co. simply made a phone call to the police to get Stavros Garkos locked up for good.
  • Dexter's Laboratory is one of the biggest examples of this trope in animation. For all his genius, Dexter is never able to keep Dee-Dee out of his laboratory. It never occurs to him that he could just use an ID checkup system for the entrance to his lab and keep Dee-Dee out for good.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: At least a partial amount of the power Lila Rossi has over her classmates because of her constant lying would be gone if someone made some fact-checking (she says she got tinnitus because she saved Jagged Stone's cat - a Wikipedia search would have revealed that Stone has always been allergic to pet fur since he was a child (hence why he owns a freaking alligator), which would make her attempt at Moving the Goalposts when Marinette calls her out on it even more blatant) or had common sense (Lila lies about having conditions (like the aforementioned tinnitus) that would demand for the school's administration to ask her to hand over her medical records, and escalates to the point she flat-out says that she has a psych condition that makes her lie all the time... which is accepted, with no psych confirming it or having anybody question any of her previous statements, if she now is a certified pathological liar).
    • On a broader scale, almost all the series supervillains are normal people "Akumatized" by Hawk-Moth, and the heroes' SOP for defeating a villain is to find some way to destroy the akumatized object, usually involving Ladybug using her Lucky Charm power to create some seemingly random object that allows her to execute a complex scheme to get at the object, and/or Cat Noir using his Cataclysm powers, which can destroy almost anything, on the object. But almost all the villains wear the object on their person, and while almost all powered beings in the show are implicitly super-durable, the objects don't appear any harder to destroy after an Akuma enters them, so using a regular firearm (or a family-friendly equivalent, which the Lucky Charm can create) to shoot at the villain with the same precision and reflexes the heroes display doing everything else until you hit their Akumatized object seems like a much simpler way to beat most villains.
  • Samurai Jack: Aku tries to invoke this with a simple yet remarkably effective plan. He destroys every single time portal in existence so that Jack can't make it back to his own time and then retreats into hiding to wait out the years until Jack dies of old age. The problem? When Aku first flung Jack into the past, he accidentally made Jack The Ageless without realizing it, so now Jack can't die of old age. Oops.
  • Captain N: The Game Master: It never occurs to Captain N and our heroes that he could teleport to Mother Brain's lair and shoot her with his Zapper, thus resolving the plot and allowing him to go home.
  • Kidd Video: Kidd Video and his band try to find a way out of the Flip Side, but they have to deal with Master Blaster and the Copy Cats, and the fact that everyone in the Flip Side loves Kidd Video's music. It never occurs to them that they could find more powerful weapons than music, for example, laser guns, and simply kill Master Blaster, then pretend to "break up", allowing them to flee the Flip Side as everybody will be disappointed by their "break up".
  • My Goldfish is Evil: It never once occurs to Beanie to just flush Admiral Bubbles or feed him to predators and his problems would be over. On the other hand, Admiral Bubbles is an evil genius, so he could probably find his way back and develop something to get back for it too.
  • Mona the Vampire: Mona is almost never portrayed in the wrong despite being quite delusional and getting people into trouble because of her crazy beliefs that they're supernatural beings, and the adults are somehow stupid enough to believe her and her friends. It never occurs to anyone that Mona might require some counseling.
  • The Foxbusters: It never occurs once to the titular team that they could just find another predator and convince them to wipe out the evil foxes for good. On the other hand, the surviving foxes could probably re-populate their species and continue their campaign of evil once that's happened.
  • In the Disney short "Old Sequoia," Donald Duck as a park ranger had plenty of perfect opportunities to off the beavers that sought to down the titular tree, but is distracted by the ringing of the telephone in his outlook post, despite being super-fast when it came to travel up and down it.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Idiot Premise, Just Eat The Mac Guffin


"WhY dOn'T yOu JuSt LeAvE?"

The Fans keep bugging Mickey on why he hasn't left VGV if he hates it so much. Turns out, Mickey has a reason why he hasn't eaten Gilligan.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / JustEatGilligan

Media sources: